AS the battle to protect the shark intensifies, it is good to note that diving to see, touch or simply experience the aura of these predators of the sea is aiding the local economy.
Shark-related dives contributed $75million to our economy in 2010, a survey revealed.
The study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Western Australia discovered that shark diving was gaining popularity and is poised to become a tourism economic driver with conservation measures proposed to turn Fiji's waters into a shark sanctuary.
While the industry contributed $31.2m in government taxes, $20.7m in corporate taxes and $10.5m in direct taxes from shark divers, local communities received $7.1m from shark diving operations.
Spin-offs in terms of salaries paid out amounted to $6.9m for workers and $221,904 for traditional reef owners.
The survey also discovered that sharks were among the most significant creatures tourists wish to see when scuba diving.
There is no doubt about the fact that this survey is good news for the tourism industry.
The revenue is a factor which should be encouraged and nurtured.
Considering the shark fin trade and the millions it is supposed to earn, this revelation stands out as a positive feedback in the campaign to protect our sharks.
Living sharks are good for the economy and it is imperative that every effort is made to ensure they are around well into the future.
It is encouraging to note that Fiji offers world-class shark dives.
It is up to us though to accept our blessings and learn to appreciate our surroundings.
What separates Fiji from the rest of the top shark dive spots around the world is the interesting fact that we offer divers the opportunity to be among eight different species of sharks in one location reef.
Tourism among other things depends on the goodwill of the people of this country to flourish.
We can make or break it. It is up to each one of us to do the right thing, for ourselves first and for our country. A Fiji shark sanctuary is not a bad idea. But there are sceptics who may insist consideration must be there for the people on the frontline ù the men and women in the fishing industry and how any law protecting sharks could have an impact on them.
Perhaps we need to consider the fact that up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, but this new report adds to the growing knowledge that they are worth much more alive than dead.