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Poll: Beachgoers Distrust Tourism Industry In Shark Attacks

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RALEIGH — Fifty-nine percent of the beachgoing public believe that the "tourist industry pushes to keep beaches open even if it is not in the best interest of the public," with only 23% disagreeing. A large majority (68%) believe that beaches should be closed for at least one day following a shark attack, including 17% who think they should be closed for a week or longer.

These are some of the surprising results of a Portrait of America regional poll of 1,081 adults in the Atlantic coastal states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Clear majorities across nearly all demographic categories (gender, age, and education), believe that the most important aim of setting limits on shark fishing should be protecting human life (59% overall), while only 13% believe it should be protecting sharks and 15% think it should be protecting fisheries.

The survey, conducted on Wednesday, September 5, has a margin of error of +1- 3%.

" An interesting and unexpected result of the survey is a gender gap," said Alan Lindsay, president of Portrait of America. "Several questions show women holding more intense opinions than men do."

Asked if they are worried about themselves or their families being attacked by a shark, only 33% said they are "very" or "somewhat worried." Substantially more men (49%) than women (30%) agree that "people worry too much about possible shark attacks", with 53% of women disagreeing.

Most people (67%) think that media coverage of recent shark attacks has been either excellent or good, while an identical number say they plan to make a conscious effort to learn more about conditions favorable to shark attacks so they can avoid those conditions and reduce their risk of attack in the future, with women (74%) more likely than men (60%) to do so.

A plurality (42%) believe that government-imposed limits on shark fishing are partly responsible for the increase in shark attacks since 1993, with 37% disagreeing. A substantial majority (56%), however, believe the goveffilnent should review its shark policies.

Finally, 43% (47% ofwomen) agree that the government should invest in technology to detect sharks before attacks occur, with only 26% (18% of women) disagreeing.

Comprehensive results of the Portrait of America shark-attack poll will be posted on line at www.PortraitofAmerica.com. Results disaggregated by state -for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia -will also be available upon request (Percentages above have been rounded).

Portrait of America conducts non-partisan research covering issues of intrest to the public. This survey was funded internally. Portrait of America composed all survey questions. No outside parties participated in the creation or funding of this survey.

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