The Socio-Economic Value of the Shark-Diving Industry in Fiji

Apr 19, 2012

The analysis of the economic revenues generated by the shark-diving industries across the Indo-Pacific has highlighted the high economic value of sharks as a non-consumptive resource for nations where tourism represents a major part of the economy. In French Polynesia, the dive industry based on interactions with lemon sharks in the lagoon of Moorea Island was estimated to generate approximately US $5.4 million annually (Clua et al. 2011). Similarly, the shark-diving industry in Palau, Micronesia, was estimated to generate US $18 million per year, accounting for approximately 8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country (Vianna et. al. 2010). These studies demonstrate substantial benefits to several sectors of the local economy and the high economic value associated with the conservation of sharks.

The Republic of Fiji is one of the most developed island nations in the Indo-Pacific, with tourism occupying a central role in the economy of the country (Central Inteligence Agency, 2011). Similar to other destinations across the region, nature tourism represents one of the main products of the tourism industry in Fiji (Anon., 2009). The diving industry in Fiji is well-established, with dive centres spread across all the main tourist destinations as well as relatively remote areas. Shark-diving activities have been identified in at least three destinations where they rely on the observation of different species ranging from reef to large coastal sharks (Gallagher and Hammerschlag, 2011). The shark-diving industry in Fiji has been described as having an important socio-economic role, generating jobs and revenues to local community (Brunnschweiler, 2009), but the amount of this contribution to the economy as a whole in Fiji remains unknown. 

report generated by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Western Australia addresses this issue using socio-economic surveys of the main tourism operators of the shark-diving industry and diving tourists visiting Fiji. It quantifies the economic value of the shark-diving industry in the country, including the economic revenues generated by divers and the distribution of these revenues to the principal local stakeholders involved with the industry including businesses, government and local community.

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