Sharks Worth Far More Alive Than Dead, New Study Shows

While a huge demand for shark fins in Asia results in the slaughter of tens of millions of sharks annually, a new study finds that sharks are worth far more alive than dead for island nations like Palau. In Palau, where more than half of tourists are drawn by diving excursions, each reef shark brings in about $179,000 in tourism revenue annually, or about $1.9 million during its lifetime, according to a study by the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences. By comparison, a single shark’s fin, sold for shark fin soup, fetches only about $108. Recognizing the economic value of sharks, Palau established a nationwide shark sanctuary in 2009. Since then, the state of Hawaii, the territories of Guam and the Northern Marianas, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands have banned possession or sale of shark fins. “Sharks are worth more alive than dead and we encourage other countries to follow Palau’s example,” said Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group, which commissioned the study. Scientists say more than a third of the world’s 1,044 shark species are threatened with extinction because of shark finning.