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Divers Will Pay To See Wildlife


Aired 4/19/09

An environmental group says there's a strong economic incentive for protecting ocean resources.  A survey of scuba divers in California shows they'd pay more money to see healthy marine life. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The group Oceana says the survey shows divers would pay more money beyond normal dive costs to see healthy corals, sharks and sea turtles.

As part of the study, scuba divers in California and other states were asked the maximum amount of money they were willing to pay.

Of the scuba divers surveyed, 76 percent were willing to pay more for an increased likelihood of swimming with a sea turtle in the wild and 71-percent were willing to pay more to see sharks.

Suzanne Garrett with Oceana on the importance of the survey.

    Garrett: That it does show that marine wildlife and marine habitats have a value.  Not just the typical ones that we think of in terms of fisheries but also benefit to divers.

She says when analyzing the market for the U.S. shark fishery - now valued at $19 million  - sharks are worth more alive as part of the ecotourism industry than dead as part of the fishing industry.

There are an estimated 1.2 million active U.S. scuba divers, which contribute more than four-million dollars to San Diego and other coastal economies each year.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.


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