Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lemons in Moorea - two!

This is a Sicklefin Lemon - forget the fins: notice the black dot on the nose? That's how you identify them!

Check this out.

This is another real interesting interview by WhySharksMatter .
David: well done & keep ‘em coming – so far, yer getting 10 out of 10!

Very cool!
Monsieur Clua is of course non other that the co-author of the Moorea Lemon Shark feeding paper and consequently, I continue to sense the same anti-feeding bias.
But at the same time, we learn that there are three dive ops feeding on that site, meaning that as expected, it is a multi-user site with all the resulting problems, and Johann Mourier’s answer on our Facebook stating that The feeding practices implemented by some diving center(for example feeding sharks from the surface) have led to a change in shark's behaviour, with bottom living lemons starting to come on the surface further leads me to believe that the real problem (if there is one) may well be procedures-related as I assumed in my post – and if so: everybody is herewith invited to come see what we do here, FOC, and discuss the possible implications for French Polynesia!

I actually tried to have that conversation there and although we are friends and everybody seemed interested, it was equally clear that nobody believed that the different interests would ever come around a table and agree on anything – I may add, very much like here in Fiji!

Anyway, the info about the value of Sharks was really interesting!
I remember seeing a direct value of approx USD 20,000 per shark per year from the Maldives, one operator in SA reports a value of approx USD 15,000 and the value of Shark tourism to the Bahamas is apparently USD 78m per year. Now, Clua postulates USD 50,000 per Shark per year for Moorea’s Lemons which is great – and also an indication of the price level of that particular corner of paradise!

Here’s the back-of-the-envelope calculation for Fiji.
We turn over FJD 1m with two boats, and it’s fair to assume that the guys down the road turn around half of that with one boat. Let’s also assume that all of it gets re-invested in Fiji, which is what we do.
Add the ancillary revenues as in flights, hospitality, restaurants, cabs, excursions, souvenirs etc and assume that the ratio may well be 2:1 (it is probably higher) – makes FJD 4.5m in total which two small dive ops earn with approx 100 regular Sharks.
Thus, the direct value of one of those Sharks to the Fiji economy is FJD 45,000 or USD 23,000 for every year it lives – as opposed to 300 bucks for its fins, once!
Pretty darn impressive, huh!

Clua also mentions the indirect value of Sharks to the Country citing improved fisheries etc.

In my conversations with Government, I say this.
Some Sharks (not all: some are clearly mesopredators that would wreak havoc on the lower throphic levels if their population were not held in check), notably the larger predatory ones are probably keystone species that have a profound effect on the health of the reefs, meaning that if they were removed, the reef ecosystems could well collapse.

With Fiji being an island state, it is fair to assume that the principal, if not the only reason why tourists come and visit are its pristine reefs and waters, meaning that if the reefs were to be degraded, Fiji (and French Polynesia, and the Bahamas, and the Maldives, and Palau!) could kiss their tourism industry goodbye!
That’s millions upon millions of dollars, often the country’s principal sector of GDP and source of foreign exchange!

Keep this in mind next time you talk about Sharks, OK?


WhySharksMatter said...

I'm glad you're enjoying Shark Science Monday, Mike! You seem to appreciate what Eric Clua is saying as much as I do.

DaShark said...

More than that David - I enjoy most, if not all you guys post on Southern Fried Science!

You got a real good thing going there - keep up the good work!