Multi-year effects of wildlife tourism on shark residency and implications for management

Published on
08 November 2022

Multi-year effects of wildlife tourism on shark residency and implications for management

Yuri Niella, Vinay Udyawer, Michael Drew, Brett Simes, Hugh Pederson, Charlie Huveneers


Wildlife tourism can assist species conservation through community-involvement and education, while contributing to regional economies. In the last decade, shark diving has become increasingly popular among wildlife tourists worldwide, including cage-diving with white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). In Australia, birthplace of the white shark diving industry, an adaptive management framework has been developed to minimise potentially detrimental effects on white sharks. We monitored the residency of 135 white sharks using acoustic tracking over eight years (2013–2021) at the Neptune Islands Group Marine Park to assess the efficacy of management regulations put in place in 2012, which limited the number of operating boats to three and a maximum of five weekly days of activity. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to investigate possible differences in shark residency as a function of number of acoustic receivers used and their corresponding distances to long-term monitoring stations. Similar residency patterns were observed independently of the number of receivers used or their deployment locations, suggesting that the monitoring design was adequate to monitor shark residency. White shark yearly residency decreased following the implementation of new regulations in 2012 and returned to baseline levels by 2013–2014. Our results highlight that white shark residency can recover from tourism-related changes and showcase how adequately-developed and -implemented regulations can enable the successful management and long-term sustainability of one of the oldest shark tourism industries. This adaptative framework (problem identification, development and implementation of policies, efficacy monitoring and performance evaluation) is broadly applicable to management of other tourism industries.

Marine Policy, Volume 147, 2023, 105362, ISSN 0308-597X, DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2022.105362


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