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It is difficult to value biodiversity conservation and maintenance in an objective way since the assessment depends very much on the standpoint of the assessor. Nevertheless, three general reasons are given below that support adequate conservation of biodiversity;

  1. From a utilitarian point of view, elements of biodiversity as resources are of great use to humans. As such biodiversity is of economic and scientific benefit (eg. New health cures).
  2. Moreover, a choice for the conservation of biodiversity is an ethical one. Human beings are part of the ecological system and should therefore respect this system.
  3. The value of biodiversity can be characterised in aesthetic, intrinsic and ethical ways. The way in which nature inspires is celebrated by painters, poets and musicians around the world and bears witness to human attachment to these intangible merits.  

The following ten principles can act as guidance to individuals and institutions involved in development of the Global Biodiversity Strategy.

Challenges of biodiversity conservation

  • Economical - including biodiversity into macro economical indicators of countries, economical asset of biodiversity a) as real value (medic and genetic engineering), b) profit for activity - eco-tourism, cost of restoration of damaged biodiversity
  • Management - creation of partnership by involving governmental, commercial organisations, navy and military, NGOs, local populations and general public.
  • Legislation - including biodiversity aspects into all relevant laws, designation of legislation support of biodiversity conservation
  • Scientific - formalization of decision-making procedure, looking for biodiversity indicators, cadastre of biodiversity, development of monitoring

Whale watching is part of species restoration and gives economical benefit to local people

Example: The case of Artemia (Artemia salina) Biodiversity's potential economic value

An example of the great potential and as yet undiscovered economic value in biodiversity is the Artemia and its relation with aquaculture.

Artemia salina is a small crustacean (zooplankton) known, probably for centuries, as "brine shrimp" because it spent its entire life cycle in saline water. The species is extremely euryhaline, withstanding salinities from 3 to 300 ppt and surviving in temperatures from 15 to 55 oC. It has two modes of reproduction. Sometimes nauplii (first Artemia swimming stage) hatch in the ovisac of the mother and are born live. However if the body of water where adults live begins to dry up and salinities rise, embryos are encased in a hard capsule, or cyst and embryos can enter a dormant stage, which allows them to withstand complete dehydration and temperatures over 100 oC or as low as absolute zero. In this state they can also withstand high radiation levels and a variety of organic solvents. The dehydrated cysts can be stored for years without loss of hatchability. Only water and oxygen are required to initiate the normal development of the Artemia embryo (Treece, 2000).

In the 1930's some investigators found that it made an excellent food for newly hatched fish larvae. In the 1950's commercial supplies originated from two sources in the U.S.A., i.e., the salt pans in the Bay of San Francisco, California and from the Great Salt Lake, Utah. They were marketed at a very low price (less than 10 USD per kg) for aquarium trade (Dhont & Sorgeloos, 2002). As aquaculture developed in the 1960's and 70's, the use of Artemia became more widespread, due to both its convenience and to its nutritional value for larval organisms. The fact that Artemia dormant cysts can be stored for long periods in cans, then used as an off-the-shell food requiring only 24h of incubation, makes them the most convenient, least labor-intensive, live food available for aquaculture (Bengston et al., 1991).

Since the mid-80's Artemia cyst consumption increased to several hundred tons annually as a result of the worldwide expansion in commercial larviculture of marine fish, shrimp and prawn. For several aquaculture candidate species it was only in recent years, due to the use of Artemia, that a successful transition could be made from pilot into commercial larviculture. For example the "explosion" of the aquaculture of euryhaline marine fish in the Mediterranean after the 1970's was based mainly on Artemia (Gerakis & Koutrakis, 1996).

Today approximately 90% of the world's commercial harvest of Artemia cysts originate from the Great Salt Lake (2001: 8,150 tn raw weight) and they are sold worldwide at prices that vary from 25 to 150 USD per kg (normally 200,000-300,000 nauplii hatch from each gram of high quality cysts), supporting the aquaculture globally.

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