Direct annual economic benefits of tourism and fisheries resulting from coral reefs amounts to US$94 million in St. Lucia and US$44 million in Tobago. Those numbers amount to 11 percent and 15 percent of those Caribbean islands’ yearly gross-domestic product.
“The health of Tobago’s reefs is vital to the island’s tourism product,” said Cmdre. Anthony Franklin, director of the Institute of Marine Affairs. “Tourists and local residents should benefit greatly in the future because of the advances these economic baseline findings could provide towards smart policies.”
The findings were announced here today along with the release of the full study, Coastal Capital - Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs in Tobago and St. Lucia, by the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Buccoo Reef Trust (BRT), the Institute of Marine Affairs, the Government of St. Lucia, and many others.
“Hopefully, knowing the economic value of the reefs will help policymakers develop and manage these beautiful and beneficial coastal areas with caution and care,” said Lauretta Burke, senior associate at WRI and lead author of the study, which puts dollar values on tourism, fisheries, and shoreline protection provided by reefs.
“Reef-valuation numbers arm government officials with powerful information they can use to make educated policy. They also provide the public and other interested parties with something they can use to push officials to make smart policies,” added Dr. Owen Day, director of the BRT.
In Tobago, more than half of tourists dive, snorkel, or take a glass-bottom boat to the Buccoo Reef. Reef-associated tourism in Tobago contributes an estimated US$43 million in direct expenditure, such as food, lodgings, and ocean-related recreation. Two estimates not captured within the Tobago economy were also determined. One, the annual value of local residents’ use of the reefs and coralline beaches is estimated between US$13 million and US$44 million. Two, the additional satisfaction derived by participants above what they paid for dive and snorkel trips is estimated at US$1 million.
In St. Lucia, more than one-quarter of tourists dive or snorkel during their visits. The direct economic impact from reef-associated tourist expenditure was more than US$91 million last year. In addition, the annual value of local residents’ use of the reefs and coralline beaches is estimated between US$52 million and US$109 million. Additional satisfaction derived by participants above what they paid for dive and snorkel trips is estimated at US$2.3 million.
Fishery activity impacted by coral reefs have a much smaller economic impact, but provide other important benefits such as jobs, cultural value, and a safety net of food, especially during difficult economic time periods. The annual direct economic impact of coral reef-associated fisheries is estimated between US$700,000 and $US1.1 million for Tobago and US$400,000 to US$700,000 for St. Lucia.
Tobago, which is about 26 miles long and six miles wide, has coral reefs that protect nearly 50 percent of its shoreline. The annual value in 2007 of shoreline-protection services provided by coral reefs - in potentially avoided damages - is estimated to be between US$18 million and $US33 million.
St. Lucia, which is about 30 miles long and 14 miles wide, has coral reefs that protect 44 percent of its shoreline. The annual value in 2007 of shoreline-protection services provided by coral reefs - in potentially avoided damages - is estimated to be between US$28 million and $US50 million.
Funding for this project came from the MacArthur Foundation, the United Nations Environment Program - Caribbean Environment Program, the Ocean Foundation, the Henry Foundation, the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SwedBio, the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), and the Buccoo Reef Trust.
Hyacinth Armstrong, Buccoo Reef Trust, 1-868-635-2000, email@example.com
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