[Coral-List] Coral reefs importance brainstorm

Doug Fenner d.fenner at aims.gov.au
Sat Aug 16 18:59:11 EDT 2003

Good question.  Tell them cold hard money, cash and heaps of it.  I think I 
read that the Florida Keys bring in 6 billion dollars a year in tourism 
revenues.  That's billion with a B. The number for the Caribbean is even 
larger.  The number for the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is over $4 
billion Australian dollars, or over $2 billion US, tourist revenue.  Every 
year.  Cozumel, Mexico, where there are over 80 dive shops, is one of the 
3rd largest foreign exchange earners for all of Mexico, along with Cancun 
and Acapulco.  Coral Reefs are big, big business.
     I ask people in living near coral reefs how much a big fish is worth 
in the market.  A few dollars?  How about if you take a scuba diver to see 
it allive?  Maybe $75?  How about a whole boatload?  How about every 
day?  In a year, the cost of diving, hotels, food, and airfare for a 
boatload of divers a day is somewhere around a million dollars.  Cozumel 
has 1000 divers on the average day.  Alive, that big fish is made of solid 
gold.  Dead, is isn't worth the plate it sits on.
     Of course the world is more complicated than that.  The live fish 
trade in reef fish (using cyanide) is something like a billion dollars a 
year.  Still smaller than tourism.  Profits can be made destroying reefs, 
although the profits are larger in sustainable use. Coral reef fish are the 
major food source of hundreds of millions of people in the tropics around 
the world. And of course tourism and particularly the airline industry has 
been hit hard by recent events.
     So why isn't the tourism industry putting some serious money into 
finding out what's going wrong and fixing it?  Not just a couple dollars 
here and a couple there.  Its their income that's on the line.   -Doug

Douglas Fenner
Australian Institute of Marine Science
PMB 3, Townsville MC
QLD 4810

  61 7 4778 8031 (home)


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