The Trouble with our Ocean

Don McAllister mcall at
Fri Nov 17 09:28:19 EST 2000

Peter Burnside wrote:

>  "From an economic standpoint, I'm not sure that a
> live reef is worth much more than a dead one.  Most
> first time snorkelers...(the majority of the market)do
> not know the difference.  They see a few fish, they
> lie in the sun.  It's just another day at the beach."
> -Journalist Joel Simon, author of "Endangered Mexico:
> An Environment on the Edge" after visiting Cancun.

I think there is an inexperienced tourist audience for which that is
- those who don't have the experience with more pristine reefs. But
still even the beginner will not be very happy with a reef overgrown
with algae or with sediments that get stirred up by waves, currents
or swim fins.  So even the amateurs won't accept just any reef and
be happy - after all they have seen photos and TV shows of healthy

For the experienced person it is quite another matter. As long as they
can afford to go to a healthy reef they will do so. Word of mouth and
the various dive magazines soon get word out to the illuminati about
formerly healthy reefs that are now "gone."

Then there are the reef services.  You can't hide the beach with
coral sand from an unhealthy reef. Healthy reefs are needed to provide
a continuous supply of nice white/pink sand.  No sand renewal and the
beach erodes or has a lot of sharp rubble painful to the feet. Or the
local hotels etc. must spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on
or trucking sand in.

Fresh fish must be brought from elsewhere if the reef is dying.

And when the reef starts getting seriously eroded, the resorts will
get hammered by the next onshore hurricane.

So I agree with you to a point. But in the long run sustainable tourism
depends of sustaining the reef.

Clinton's sign should have said, "It's the economy, stupid, that depends

on the environment."  And so should have Bush's.  In the subsequent
election, hopefully Ralph had such as sign, but I gather he only got
3% of the vote - this time around.

Don McAllister

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