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Shark Tourism Worth US$18m Annually For Pacific Island Nation; 'A Viable Economic Engine'
Underwatertimes.com News Service
May 2, 2011 17:32 EST

A new study has shown that a single reef shark can contribute almost US$2 million in its lifetime to the economy of Palau. Credit Pew

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A single reef shark can contribute almost US$2 million in its lifetime to the economy of Palau, according to a new study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the University of Western Australia. The analysis quantified the economic benefits of the shark-diving industry to the Pacific island nation and found that its value far exceeded that of shark fishing.

"Sharks can literally be a 'million-dollar' species and a significant economic driver," said Mark Meekan, principal research scientist at AIMS. "Because of their low rates of reproduction and late maturity, shark populations have been driven into a global decline due to fishing. Yet our study shows that these animals can contribute far more as a tourism resource than as a catch target."

Findings from the study, which looked at the reef sharks observed at Palau's major dive sites, include: