A new study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science says that sharks are worth more alive and swimming as eco-tourism draws than dead and plundered for their fins for shark-fin soup, an Asian delicacy. The analysis of Palau’s shark-diving industry concludes that a single shark is worth $1.9 million over its lifetime while a tureen-bound reef shark goes for $108. Palau declared itself a shark sanctuary in 2009. Honduras and The Maldives followed suit, and Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the Marshall Islands all have prohibited the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins.
The research was funded by the Pew Trusts, which points out that up to 73 million sharks are killed annually, sending shark population into decline worldwide. The loss of the apex predator has biological implications: “Scientists have found that declines in sharks can contribute to a shift from healthy, coral-dominated reefs to barren, algae-dominated reefs,” according to Pew.
image: Pew Global Shark Conservation Campaign