Dead or Alive: The Promise of Tourism For Shark Conservation

Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos

One strategy to help protect and research sharks is ecotourism. A recent study around Costa Rica’s Cocos Island, estimated the value of a Hammerhead shark at US $1.6 million each for tourism purposes, compared to less than $200 it could sell for. A 2011 study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science had an even bigger difference, estimating a lifetime value of nearly US $2 million dollars for a Reef shark in Palau vs. only $108 for it’s sale in a fish market. Governments are starting to take notice of this economic value; countries including Australia, Palau, as well as the Cook Islands have recently created large marine areas to protect sharks and other ocean life.

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English: Grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrh...

Australia’s Ocean to be Protected under Plan to add 44 large-scale Marine Reserves

MORE than a third of Australia’s ocean will be protected under a Gillard Government plan to add 44 large-scale marine reserves to the national network.

Environment Minister Tony Burke will today unveil the government’s final network of marine reserves – the most comprehensive network of marine-protected areas in the world.

“For generations Australians have understood the need to preserve precious areas on land as national parks,” Mr Burke said.

“Our oceans contain unique marine life which needs protection too.”

Mr Burke said the government’s aim was to protect Australia’s unique marine environment, “while supporting coastal communities and marine industries around the country”.

Great Barrier reef

Great Barrier reef

“Over the coming months, the government will consult the fishing industry and fisheries management agencies on the design and implementation of a fisheries adjustment assistance package,” he said.

He warned it was too late to change the size of the reserves and their location.

“The question now is very straight forward: Do we go ahead with the most comprehensive marine park network in the world or do we not?” he said.

The new marine reserves take the overall size of the Commonwealth marine reserves network to 3.1 million square kilometres, and features:

The Coral Sea Region – which covers an area of more than half the size of Queensland – supports critical nesting sites for the green turtle and is renowned for its diversity of big predatory fish and sharks

The South-West Marine Region – which extends from the eastern end of Kangaroo Island in SA to Shark Bay in WA – is of global significance as a breeding and feeding ground for a number of protected marine species such as southern right whales, blue whales and the Australian Sea Lion

The Temperate East Marine Region – which runs from the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to Bermagui in southern NSW – includes the waters surrounding Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands and is home to the critically endangered east coast population of grey nurse shark, the vulnerable white shark and has important offshore reef habitat at Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs and Lord Howe Island that support the threatened black cod

The North-West Marine Region – which stretches from the WA-NT border through to Kalbarri, south of Shark Bay in WA – is home to the whale shark which is the world’s largest fish and provides protection to the world’s largest population of humpback whales that migrate annually from Antarctica to give birth in the water off the Kimberely

The Marine National Park Zones (green on the national map) provide the highest level of protection, banning extractive activities including fishing and petroleum.

Passage of vessels is still allowed in those zones, as is tourism and some recreational activities, like diving.

The Habitat Protection Zones and Conservation Park Zones (yellow on the map) protect habitats such a coral reefs.

Some low impact extractive activities – including some forms of commercial fishing – are allowed in those areas, while recreational fishing and tourism are allowed.

The Multiple Use and Special Purpose Zones (light blue and dark blue on the map) allow for a greater range of activities, both recreational and commercial. Some activities, for example bottom trawl and gillnet fishing, are excluded.
It is expected that the final marine reserves will be declared before the end of the 2012.

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Happy Chinese New Year … Year of the (Sea) Dragon!

Via Scoop.itOcean News

Happy Chinese New Year … Year of the (Sea) Dragon!

January 23 will bring a very significant celebration for those that live by the sea … it is the year of the water dragon which only occurs …

Shell drilling permit for Ningaloo Reef approved

Published on: July, 08 2011Shell drilling permit for Ningaloo Reef approved |

Australian activists have expressed outrage at today’s government decision to allow energy giant Shell to drill for gas at a pristine reef that was listed as a World Heritage site just two weeks ago.

Zebar shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) - Leopard shark on Ningaloo Reef imageWestern Australia’s reef is considered a natural wonder, sprawling some 260km along Australia’s west coast and teeming with hundreds of tropical fish and coral species.

The UN’s cultural body UNESCO listed the remote Ningaloo coast as a World Heritage site late last month due to its reef, sea turtles and white whales.

It’s a huge tourist attraction that generates over $1 billion in profit each year, but environmentalists say it could be under threat after the Australian government green-lighted a proposal from Shell to explore for gas nearby.

“We are very concerned that the Australian government is even allowing the oil and gas sector to operate so close to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef,” WWF’s Paul Gamblin told ABC Radio.

“It really beggars belief that they aren’t requiring a full environmental estimate of Shell’s latest drilling proposal.”

Gamblin said the Shell operations would run along the side of the reef itself, a “new frontier” for drilling, which has previously been confined to its northern corner.

Shell issued a statement saying it was “mindful of the significant biodiversity and heritage values of the Ningaloo region and we continue to plan our operations accordingly,” noting its long safety record in the region.

“The proposed exploration well is targeting gas and would be around 70km from the Ningaloo Reef and 50km from the boundary of the Ningaloo Marine Park and World Heritage Area,” the energy firm said.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said Australia had beefed up its regulatory processes since the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea two years ago, which saw thousands of barrels of crude spew into west coast waters over 10 weeks.

“Since the Montara incident, the department has adopted a more rigorous process for the assessment of offshore petroleum activities and the approval conditions,” Mr Burke said in a statement.

“Shell’s proposal to undertake exploration drilling west of Ningaloo Reef was considered on its merits in accordance with national environment law,” he added.

Mr Burke said Australia was “committed to protecting Australia’s unique environment including our oceans” and the Shell approval was consistent with similar projects.

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