A group of researchers from the University of British Columbia published a paper studying the economic benefits of the shark fin trade versus the emerging shark tourism industry. They found the global shark fisheries earn around $630 million annually although this number is in decline. Shark tourism, on the other hand, earns $314 million annually and is growing rapidly, raking in a potential $780 million annually over the next 20 years. Therefore, sharks left in the water are quickly becoming worth more than those removed.
There is strong evidence that shark tourism protects sharks by providing alternative livelihoods as well as benefitting science and management through permit fees and citizen scientists. Income from tourism can benefit the local economy leading to better shark awareness and protection. Dive tourism contributes up to $18 million to the Island of Palau’s national economy. One study in French Polynesia indicates a single reef shark is worth $100,000 a year. Alternatively, a dead shark might bring a fisherman $100 for a one-time gain. In areas of Mexico and Honduras whale shark ecotourism is helping prevent poaching and building a sustainable local economy outside of fishing.
Places to dive with sharks in the United States
Florida has the best shark diving in the United States and is one of top shark diving destinations in the world. This is because Florida offers world-class shark diving 7 days a week year-round with sharks seen on every trip. Not only does this location have large numbers of sharks but it is home to high profile species such as Tiger, Great Hammerhead, Bull, Dusky, Silky, Reef, Sandbar, and Lemon Sharks.
In New York, Sea Turtle Charters operates in Montauk NY. They are an excellent dive company offering cage shark diving with blues, hammerheads, makos and other sharks. This is the kind of activity that people should be doing when it comes to sharks, seeing them up close and realizing just how magnificent they are. Go to the charter’s website to learn more about their shark cage diving operations http://seaturtlecharters.com/contact.html