Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Business partner or simple catch? The economic value of the sicklefin lemon shark in French Polynesia

E. Clua A D , N. Buray B , P. Legendre C , J. Mourier B and S. Planes B

A Secretariat of the Pacific Community, BP D5, Noumea, New Caledonia.

B Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement (CRIOBE – USR 3278 EPHE-CNRS), BP 1013, 98729 Moorea, French Polynesia.

C Département de Sciences biologiques, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada.

D Corresponding author. Email: Ericc@spc.int

Marine and Freshwater Research 62(6) 764-770 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF10163
Submitted: 19 June 2010  Accepted: 15 December 2010   Published: 24 June 2011

Abstract

Most arguments invoked so far by the scientific community in favour of shark conservation rely on the ecological importance of sharks, and have little impact on management policies. During a 57-month study, we were able to individually recognise 39 sicklefin lemon sharks that support a shark-feeding ecotourism activity in Moorea Island, French Polynesia. We calculated the direct global revenue generated by the provisioning site, based on the expenses of local and international divers. The total yearly revenue was around USD5.4 million and the 13 sharks most often observed at the site had an average contribution each of around USD316 699. Any one of these sharks represents a potential contribution of USD2.64 million during its life span. We argue that publicising economic values per individual will be more effective than general declarations about their ecological importance for convincing policy makers and fishers that a live shark is more valuable than a dead shark for the local economy. Studies monitoring the potential negative ecological effects of long-term feeding of sharks should, however, be conducted to ensure these are also considered. Besides declarations about the non-consumptive direct-use value of sharks, as promoted by ecotourism, the calculation of their other economic values should also benefit shark conservation.

Additional keywords: conservation, ecotourism, Negaprion acutidens, shark-feeding, total economic value (TEV).


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