Shark Based Ecotourism Thrives

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Shark populations over the last 50 years have decreased dramatically.

From habitat degradation to overfishing and finning, human activities have affected their populations and made certain species all but disappear.

A recent article in Current Issues in Tourism by Austin J. Gallagher and Dr. Neil Hammerschlag of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami study the impact of these apex predators on coastal economies and the importance of including conservation efforts in long term management plans.

The team collected data from a total of 376 shark ecotour operations across 83 locations and 8 geographic regions.

Oceania, The Greater Caribbean and North America ranked at the top for highest proportion of different locations offering shark tour services, and the Bahamas alone contained over 70% of all shark ecotourism in the Greater Caribbean and generated over $78 million in revenue in 2007.

The Maldives saw similar numbers, and in 2010 banned shark fishing due to shark-based ecotourism contributing and estimated >30% towards their GDP.