A global fall in the sea turtle population is putting jobs, tourism and coastal economies at risk, particularly in developing countries, according to a study published yesterday.
Research by WWF shows that tourism brings in almost three times as much money as the sale of sea-turtle products such as meat, leather and eggs.
The report Money Talks: Economic Aspects of Marine Turtle Use and Conservation is the first to assess the global economic value of sea turtles. It compares revenue generated from killing them or collecting their eggs with that generated by tourism. Eighteen sites in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean were studied.
At nine sites where turtles are used for their meat, eggs and shells, the average annual income from these products was £332,000. At nine locations where turtles are an attraction, the average annual income was almost triplethat at £975,000. The most established site, Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica, raises£3.8m annually. About 175,000 people take turtle tours each year to more than 90 sites in over 40 countries.