[Coral-List] RE: Coral reefs importance brainstorm/ecological disadvantages of marine reserves

Spurgeon, James James.Spurgeon at jacobs.com
Mon Aug 18 11:27:34 EDT 2003

Dear Andy, Subhashni and others interested,

Some points regarding the full costs and benefits of protecting marine

A) Disadvantages/costs 
Protecting areas for conservation results in 3 main categories of costs

1) Direct costs - economic/financial costs of establishment and ongoing

2) Indirect costs - covering environmental, social and economic impacts:
	a) Environmental impacts can include erosion, trampling, waste,
disturbance of animals, feeding animals thus 	upsetting foodwebs etc if
visitor activities are inadequately managed. If management enables some
species to 	multiply unchecked, this can also affect associated species
and ecosystems.  

	b) Social impacts can include social conflicts arising from pro/anti
protected area groups of people (often 	job/income 	related), and if
tourism is significantly enhanced, various adverse tourism-related social
issues can 	arise.  In 	addition, various social issues are likely
to arise due to opportunity costs forgone - see below).

	c) Economic impacts can include things such as potentially
increasing property prices in nearby areas and loss of 	economic produce
(e.g. crops, yields of fish) due to increased populations of some species. 

3) Opportunity costs - economic costs associated with being unable to
undertake other economic activities in (and sometimes near) the protected
area.  This can lead to loss of economic output (e.g. from fishery yields,
tourism development), traditional jobs and nutritional sources etc.  

B) Advantages/benefits  
Benefits converted into monetary values can be extremely powerful - if used
and expressed appropriately.  However, despite the hugely significant value
of coral reefs, disappointingly little is really known about their true
economic value!  Although a few studies have demonstrated high values
associated with some benefits (e.g. fishing income/tourism
expenditure/erosion protection etc) there is a dearth of them, they are
rarely fully comprehensive, and the supporting assumptions are usually
rather weak.  As ever, much of this situation is to do with funding
constraints rather than anything else.  

Data on ecological:socio-economic links is generally fairly poor (e.g.
dependance of fisheries on corals and cause-effect relationships of human
impacts), as is our understanding of most of the benefits.  In particular,
little is known about non-use (passive) values, which for some coral reefs
(e.g. North West Hawain Islands) will be immense!  This situation really
should change if we want more appropriate levels of funding allocated to
protecting and studying reefs.  Here in the UK, non-use values are now
beginning to be accounted for in complex resource related decision-making
processes, with more research being undertaken to better understand them.

C) References
Anyone who wants more information on these types of issues should read the
excellent (but a little dated) book by Dixon and Sherman (1990) Economics of
protected areas: a new look at benefits and costs.  Island Press, Covelo,

Some issues (e.g. non-use values) are discussed further in Spurgeon (2001)
Valuing Coral Reefs: The next ten years.  Downloadable from Reefbase, or I
can email you a copy.    

In addition, we at Jacobs are currently undertaking a detailed
multi-questionnaire survey based investigation into the full costs and
benefits (including expenditures/non-use values etc) of designating 300
protected areas in Scotland.   The aim is to help the Scottish Executive
identify winners and losers; determine priorities for expenditure; seek ways
to enhance benefits; and help identify revenue generating opportunities.
Our preliminary report will be available online in a month or two, and the
final report hopefully early next year.  Although corals are not mentioned
too often, the principles are nevertheless highly relevant!

Best wishes

James Spurgeon
Executive Environmental Economist/Scientist
Tel: +44 (0)118 963 5346
Fax: +44 (0)118 926 3888 
E-mail: james.spurgeon at jacobs.com 
Web: www.jacobs.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Andy Collins [mailto:Andy.Collins at noaa.gov]
Sent: Monday, August 18, 2003 10:37 AM
To: Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Coral reefs importance brainstorm

Thank you Andrew for bringing up this point, and to all the others who 
have provided excellent resources on the economic value of healthy 
reefs, and other information.  I do certainly agree that management 
decisions based solely on the factor of economic value are ridiculuos 
and will most certainly lead to resource depletion and destruction 
through one path or another.  Lets face it, there are fisherpeople out 
there who fish sustainably, and there are eco-tourist divers who cause 
destruction with their fins.  It is the cumulative impact of all forms 
of use and extraction, non-point source impacts such as marine debris 
and global temperature change, and a whole host of site specific 
degrading factors that are causing, or have caused the demise of coral 

In order to connect an individual's behavior to the damage being done 
the critical connections need to be made, and in order to do this people 
need to see how they are connected to the reef.  I wanted info on 
commercially valuable pelagic species connection to coral reef 
ecosystems because many people eat tuna, or billfish and if they can see 
that that dying coral reef ecosystems mean less tuna, or higher price 
tuna, then they can relate.  As an educator and outreach person I often 
stuggle to match a particular connection to a particular person.  I 
believe that the connections are there, often several degrees seperated, 
but there none-the-less and these types of personal connections make the 
most powerful arguments concerning conservation.

I can tell you that the typical weekend Hawaiian fisherman couldn't care 
less about divers bringing in revenue to the State if their fishing 
grounds get shut down, and the diver may not care about the fisherman's 
concern.  In the end we are all going to have to change our behavior and 
values, and make sacrifices.  Acknowledging responsibilty is the first 
step, then taking action.  The more creative I can get about helping the 
first step along, the better.

~Andy Collins

Finlay, Andrew wrote:

> Is it really ethical to equate a monetary value on natural resources such
> coral reefs, water, or air?
> i.e. (example only not real figures) that a humphead wrasse is worth
> in tourism revenue (over a 5 period) as scuba divers are willing to pay x
> amount of dollars to come and see these increasingly rare species.
> Unfortunately we have come to the stage when we may have to say 'yes' - it
> maybe now the only way forward for conservation.
> Government decision makers will never prioritise the environment, (i.e.
> ahead of public services), until they are made aware of just how much
> revenue natural resources bring in for their country.
> i.e. The Economic Value of the Coral Reefs of Hawaii (Cesar 2000/1) or 
> The Economic Value of the Coral Reefs of Egypt - same author in print
> Whilst it may not be ideal or ethical to say a certain coral reef is worth
> amount of dollars - it may be the only way to get politicians to wake up.
> Fin
> R. Andrew O. Finlay 
> Environmental Consultant
> Atkins Water
> Woodcote Grove
> Ashley Road
> Epsom, Surrey KT18 5BW
> Tel: +44 (0)1372 754260
> Fax: +44 (0)1372 754331
> Email: Andrew.Finlay at atkinsglobal.com
> Web: www.atkinsglobal.com/water
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Andy Collins
Program Specialist/Webmaster
NOAA/NOS Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve
6700 Kalaniana'ole Hwy. # 215
Honolulu, HI 96825
Ph: (808)397-2659
Mobile: (808)347-8144
Fx: (808)397-2662

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