For the Pacific island nation of Palau, sharks are worth much more alive than dead. A new study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has found that one reef shark during its full life is worth $1.9 million to Palau in tourism revenue. Sold for consumption the shark is worth around $108. In this case a shark is worth a stunning 17,000 times more alive than dead.
“Sharks can literally be a ‘million-dollar’ species and a significant economic driver,” explained Mark Meekan, principal research scientist at AIMS, in a press release. “Because of their low rates of reproduction and late maturity, shark populations have been driven into a global decline due to fishing. Yet our study shows that these animals can contribute far more as a tourism resource than as a catch target.”
In total, the study found that shark tourism brings in $18 million to the island nation a year (8% of the country’s gross domestic product), making each shark worth around $180,000 annually.