Western Australian researchers are conducting a global initiative to evaluate the importance of sharks for conservation and economic development, in a bid to slow global declines in shark numbers.
Besides being extremely important for marine ecosystems, sharks may also be good business partners”Gabriel Vianna
Researchers at the University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute are collecting data for a valuation of shark populations in Australia, following the success of similar studies in Fiji, Borneo and Palau.
The studies aim to provide a socio-economic valuation that may make shark conservation economically attractive for decision-makers, focusing on describing the economic benefits of tourism when compared to commercial fishing.
Lead researcher Gabriel Vianna says shark fishing is a major problem around the world, causing shark populations to decline by more than 90 per cent in some areas.
"The hunger of the Asian market for shark fins has been responsible for stimulating local fishers in distant areas such as Africa, Central and South America or even remote islands of the Indo-Pacific to catch sharks for the export of fins," he says.
"This combined with the large catches of sharks by commercial fishing fleets around the world has caused massive declines in many shark populations."
In the Asia-Pacific, recent studies have revealed significant declines of populations previously considered to cope well with commercial fishing.
Researchers warn this shows current catches of sharks are not sustainable for many species and need to be better regulated.
Read the full article here: Project Aware