So how do we go about protecting these creatures?
Eliminating fishing all together is neither a feasible nor a strategic solution. Ultimately, conservationists must work closely with fishery management organizations to determine solutions that can benefit both groups.
One way this can be achieved is through Ecotourism.
Ecotourism raises awareness about endangered species and fragile environments, while simultaneously supporting the economy. One world-renowned site of ecotourism lies off of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. At Shark Reef Marine Reserve, Beqa Adventure Divers have the exclusive ability to lead tourist dives on the reef. Though a local village owns exclusive fishing rights to the reef, a no-fishing agreement was established with the village of Galoa. In return, Galoa receives a portion of Beqa Adventure Diver’s profits.
The Shark Reef Marine Reserve is home to some of the most beautiful sharks, from hefty Bull sharks to little Whitetip Reef Sharks. Here, tourists and scientists can observe these incredible beings in their natural environment.
“The Dorsal Effect” is another current ecotourism program, aiming to transform a local Indonesian fishing village’s economy into an ecotourism-based economy. Through this method, conservationists can protect the long-term health of marine ecosystems while still maintaining the livelihood of many fishing-dependent communities.
Photo: Bull Sharks on the Shark Reef Marine Reserve of Fiji (Photo Credits: personally taken)