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TCI to tap into multi-million shark and ray tourism

By Olivia Rose
THE BAHAMAS National Trust (BNT) is set to assist the Turks and Caicos Islands in boosting its shark and ray diving tourism.
This collaboration will also see measures being put in place to further protect sharks and stingrays in the TCI.
The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) recently held two rounds of consultative meetings to discuss the marine apex predator conservation in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The first meeting was held in Five Cays, Providenciales, on Tuesday (November 27) at the Community Centre and the second on Thursday (November 29) at the DECR Office, South Caicos.
According to a statement from the DECR issued earlier this week, the consultation meetings gave the community an opportunity to objectively hear about possible conservation methods, as well as to express their opinions and concerns regarding marine apex predator conservation.
The fishing, water sports, diving and tour operator stakeholders were strongly encouraged to attend the meetings as well as the wider public.
Eric Carey, executive director of the BNT, recently revealed that the Bahamas shark tourism earns $200 million plus annually.
In 2011, the Bahamas became the first country in the Caribbean to protect its shark populations.
The Bahamas government amended the Fisheries Regulations to prohibit commercial shark fishing along with the sale, importation and export of shark products.
A recent study published in the journal Biological Conservation that has found that sharks and rays contributed $114 million to the Bahamian economy in 2014, with 99 percent of this value generated by the shark and ray tourism sector.
According to the study, 19,000 divers or 43 percent of all dive tourists visiting The Bahamas, came primarily to see sharks.
Recreational shark divers spent $49 million, which went on to circulate through the national economy.
IMAGE: Bahamas NT Logo


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