Addition to 1997-98 Mass Coral Bleaching

John_Field at John_Field at
Fri Sep 17 17:05:57 EDT 1999

     A recent posting from Clive Wilkinson and Tom Hourigan stated that
"Impacts on fisheries are probably the most important short- to medium-term
socioeconomic impact of bleaching."  This does not seem obvious to me and I
was wondering what others thought.  What, if any, evidence supports this?
Jack Sobel, Director
Ecosystem Program
Center for Marine Conservation
1725 DeSales St. NW, Suite #600
Washington, DC  20036
Phone:  (202) 429-5609
Fax:  (202) 872-0619
Email:  jsobel at

I should preface my response by stating that I am not a socioeconomics
expert...however, I agree that fishery declines could be ONE of the most
important impacts of the global bleaching event.  Declines in ecotourism
and scuba diving revenue are probably near the top of the list as well.

As for evidence, the unprecedented nature of the last bleaching event
precludes a lot of historical analysis.  However, it seems intuitive that
current human socioeconomic gains from coral reefs are primarily extractive
or consumptive (notwithstanding the ecotourism/diving activity mentioned
above).  If the production of these reefs declines because of the bleaching
event (and that seems certain), then human socioeconomic gains are
subsequently going to decline in the short, mid, and maybe even long term.

This, of course, completely ignores the aesthetic, noneconomic value of the
reefs and the associated loss due to bleaching.

Just my two cents,
John Field

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