The Trouble with our Ocean
Oceanwatch at aol.com
Oceanwatch at aol.com
Wed Nov 29 10:34:24 EST 2000
I'll post only because I am one of those advocates who uses the economic
value of reefs in arguing for funding and stronger protection in our national
and international policies.
Part of what I read is a concern that we demean the resource or diminish
other values when we attach a dollar value to reefs, and that such valuations
have not always influenced decision makers to do the right thing. I believe
nonetheless that if we argue only on biological terms and ignore the
economics, we lose a powerful case that must be made.
Government and commerce expect to hear the usual environmentalist rhetoric
for natural resources based on their intrinsic value. But without a clear
sense of their total value to society, decisionmakers are likelier to make
bad decisions about coral reefs. Yes, we need to do a better job of
quantifying and articulating the economic value of reefs, especially to shift
away from consumptive uses. We have a long way to go. It's paradoxical too
for the fishing industry to hear that they can actually expect to find more
fish elsewhere if we shut them down in a marine protected area.
Economic impacts are a key component of regulatory decisions in the U.S.
system. But hardball politics flavor every decision, especially for those
like Don MacAlister fighting in the trenches of places like the Philippines.
I believe that we need every tool in that fight. We just need to round out
the argument with biological, ecological and social benefits, too.
Ursula has pointed out the need for education, especially because the
tourists can't discriminate between a healthy reef or an algae-dominated
reef. But I found the post on the German divers shopping around at the Das
Boot convention for "unbleached" dive destinations a very telling indication
that consumers can be savvy. Diving of course is a formalized training
system and a sport that requires more than the casual choices that snorkelers
make. But armed with the right information, snorkelers may also start to get
(A commercial break from our sponsors.) That is why Oceanwatch has developed
Protect the Living Reef, two videos and training programs in responsible
diving and snorkeling and reef protection. Oceanwatch will release the
program with PADI Project AWARE at the annual DEMA (dive and tourism show) in
Just my two cents
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e-mail: Oceanwatch at aol.com
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