25 Apr 2012

Shark protection seen as beneficial for Fiji

6:52 pm on 25 April 2012

A recent study into shark-dive tourism in Fiji is suggesting the need to declare a shark sanctuary if the country is to sustain its multi-million dollar industry.

Researchers from the Australian Institute of Science found that the value of shark-related diving contributed 42.2 million US dollars to the Fiji economy in 2010.

The manager of global shark conservation with the Pew Environment group, Jill Hepp, says it shows a healthy shark population is important to both the ocean ecology and Fiji's economy.

She says in places where there is no legal protection for sharks, the shark population rapidly declines.

"Estimates suggest that 30 percent of shark populations around the world are threatened or near threatened with extinction. Scientists have shown that up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to support the shark fin trade, primarily for shark fin soup. What the study shows is that sharks alive in an ocean are much more valuable than sharks dead and in a bowl of soup."

Jill Hepp says the Fiji government is considering protecting its shark populations and it's hoped the survey will help it in its decision.