Live Sharks Prove Lucrative as More Countries Move to Protect Them

Mexico and the Bahamas joined the list of countries this summer that have banned shark fishing within their territorial waters. Meanwhile, Chile outlawed shark finning at sea within its waters. Such moves may turn a profit: A study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science assessed the value of shark watching as a tourist industry for the Pacific island nation of Palau, which declared its waters a shark sanctuary in 2009. The study found that money made from divers who specifically come to see sharks constitutes over 8 percent of Palau's $218 million GDP. With 100 or so sharks in the prime dive sites, each contributes roughly $179,000 annually to Palau’s tourism industry—a whopping $1.9 million over a shark's lifetime. A dead shark's value is a few hundred dollars at most. Highlighting economic incentives for countries to develop shark watching tourism could be a powerful tool in the fight to save these animals