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Shark-watching ecotourism in the Pacific islands: A move towards "payments for ecosystem services"?

Article

Shark-watching ecotourism in the Pacific islands: A move towards "payments for ecosystem services"?

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Abstract

services they provide to humans (see Box 1). This article defended the idea that every ecosystem can be divided up into its various components and services, each of whose value can be estimated on the basis of the data provided by the many different studies that describe and quantify biological functions, before shifting over to the economic domain. These values, divided on the basis of "use values" and "non-use values", range from the most tangible such as the price that can be gained from selling all or part of a natural asset to the most abstract such as the value attributed to the continued existence of that asset for the enjoyment of future generations (herit-age or bequest value). The cumulative sum of all those values leads to the concept of "total economic value" (TEV), which obviously can be applied to sharks (Fig. 1). This TEV concept is far from perfect conceptually (see Box 2), but it has the merit of making it possible to grasp the diverse range of values that can be attached to a nat-ural asset. That is, how to differentiate from among the direct use values, those that are "consumptive" and those that are not. Consumptive direct-use values are mainly based on fishing, which provides a profit from shark catches by selling products such as their meat, but more particularly their fins, which gives rise to a very profit-able business. However, this use is consumptive because it contributes to the disappearance of sharks from their habitat with some well-known adverse effects, particu-larly through cascading effects on ecosystems (Myers et al. 2007). Such uses, therefore, appear less sustain-able than non-consumptive direct uses, which keep the animals in their ecosystems. The best example of a non-consumptive direct-use value is nature tourism or eco-tourism (Fig. 1). Economic value of shark-watching ecotourism Shark ecotourism first developed in the late 20 th cen-tury but mainly involved whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, a plankton-eating animal that is more like whales in ecology and behaviour than carnivorous sharks. Eco-nomic analyses of the dividends drawn from observ-ing this animal were done in Australia, which is still the top site in the world for this industry, which began in 1989. In 2006, each tourist in the Ningaloo Reef region

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Innovative financing that supports innovative (unconventional) best practice or management (typically by user groups, communities, or trade associations) include payments for ecosystem services (PES), investments in watershed services (IWS), marine conservation agreements, and responsible investing (including impact investing). Admittedly the segregation of these instruments into two groups is artificial, and many tools can cross the line (for instance PES can be used to support government-led planning and management), however assessing innovative financing across this wide spectrum of schemes allows the greatest possible ability to learn and apply lessons from other parts of the world to the Pacific region. 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Ecological dynamics determine local benefits of shark finning ban
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