Fact Sheet: Baa Atoll and Hanifaru Bay, Maldives Scientists, tourism operators, and government unite for conservation
Conserving sharks and rays for ecotourism offers a powerful and more sustainable economic alternative to fishing these increasingly threatened species. Shark and ray focused tourism typically takes place in distinct areas where certain species aggregate predictably, and in seascapes where fishing also occurs. MPAs are likely, therefore, to be an important management option for conserving sharks and rays and facilitating tourism at many sites.
The rapid increase in shark and ray tourism sites globally has the potential to drive the creation of targetted MPAs designed to protect local aggregations and facilitate tourism. However, there are relatively few good examples of this occurring. Furthermore, MPAs in developing countries in particular, may not be well-enforced, due wholly or in part due to the lack of sufficient financing.
Project AWARE, the Manta Trust and WWF have joined forces to produce a practical, best-practice guide that can be used by tourism operators, NGOs, and local communities to create and maintain shark and ray tourism operations that are well managed, help conserve specific species of sharks and rays and benefit local communities. The guide is under development, but these factsheets highlighting several good case studies of where MPAs combined with innovative financing are helping to conserve shark and rays and facilitate tourism, have been produced.
You can find a similar fact sheet on thresher sharks here