[Coral-List] Coral-List Digest, Vol 62, Issue 14- Damage Assessments

Peter Edwards horlicks_1989 at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 11 14:57:57 EDT 2008

Hello Andrew,
Glad to hear that the plaintiff won.
With regards to the appropriate fine for a patch of reef ... that is a tricky one.  I am assuming that since Marshall Islands are a Associated(?) State of the USA then the procedures for setting fines etc should be guided by US law.  Someone who knows better can advise.
However I am sure that Damage and Resource Assessment staff within NOAA can advise you further.  You mentioned that the judge will be making a decision very soon.  My humble opinion is that $5000 would be a woefully inadequate amount.
Economic valuation of coral reefs ( or coral reef ecosystem services) is tricky but not a new tool.  There are a few studies out there in the valuation and policy literature that address this issue.  I would advise you to take a look at them and see how they derive the values. My initial advice would be to zero in on the losses from fisheries and tourism revenue.  Look for studies that calculate Access Value, that is the value to the "consumer" if they no longer have access to the particular resource. For example loss of reef due to an oil spill.
I have attached a table below that outlines the results from some valuation studies. See also some references.
You can use these values as proxies for your case.  BE very careful here to select studies that have similar characteristics to your site. It would not make sense to transfer the values from from for example Bonaire when comparing a Pacific reef environment.  But how the information is used can guide you.  I guess it would be in the best interest of the Plaintiff to pass this information onto the Judge(s) who will make a decision on sentencing.
In your case for example, an estimation of recreational value ( NOTE this does not include fisheries, coastal protection etc) would be to multiply the per-person WTP values by the total number of tourists/users over a given period/season (per annum for example).  That would give you a nice huge figure so that you can say payment say for example 1 - 5% of this gross figure might be adequate.
This was a mouthful but I hope this helps
Peter E.T. Edwards (BSc Zoology, MPhil Marine Sciences UWI-Jamaica)
PhD. Candidate Marine Policy
University of Delaware
Graduate College of Marine Studies
Newark, DE 19716


Dixon et al. (1993)

Bonaire Marine Park


$27.40 mean annual WTP for access to scuba dive

Tongson and Dygico (2004)

Philippines Marine Park


$41.11 mean WTP per live-a-board boat trip (avg. 3 dive days) for access to scuba dive

Spash (2000)

Jamaica Marine Park

Not reported

$25.89 mean annual donation for five years to trust fund to operate marine park to improve environmental quality from 40% to 100% of its potential

Spash (2000) 

Hypothetical Curaçao Marine Park

Not reported

$25.21 mean annual donation for five years to trust fund to operate marine park to improve environmental quality from 35% to 75% of its potential

Lindsey and Holmes (2002)

Proposed Vietnam Marine Park


$0.51 - $1.48 mean WTP for daily access for any activity

Mathieu et al. (2003)

Six Seychelles Marine Parks


$5.20 - $14.40 mean WTP for daily access for any activity (range is for different areas). $19.80 mean WTP for daily access to scuba dive

Arin and Kramer (2002)

Hypothetical Philippines Marine Parks


$3.40 - $5.50 mean WTP for daily access to scuba dive

Wielgus, et al. (2003)

Eilat Coral Beach Nature Reserve in Israel


$1-$3 mean WTP for moderate improvements in quality (many scenarios were considered)

Arin T, Kramer RA.  Divers willingness to pay to visit marine sanctuaries: an Exploratory study.  Ocean and Coastal Management 2002; 45:171-183.
Dixon, J.A., L.F. Scura and T. van’t Hof. (2000)  An economic and ecological analysis of the Bonaire Marine Park.  Cesar HSJ (ed) Collected essays on the economics of coral reefs.  Kalmar Sweden, Cordio,242 pp.
Mathieu, L.F., I.H. Langford, and W Kenyon (2003). “Valuing marine parks in a developing county: a case study of the Seychelles”. Environment and Development Economics 8:373-90.
Parsons G.R. and S. Thur (2008) Valuing changes in the Quality of Coral Reef Ecosystems: A stated preference study of SCUBA diving in the Bonaire National Marine Park.  Environmental Resource Economics (40) 4: 593-608.
Spash, CL (2000). “Assessing the benefits of improving coral reef biodiversity: The contingent valuation method.”  In Cesar, HSJ, ed. Collected Essays on the Economics of Coral Reefs. Cordio: Kalmar, Sweden. pp242.
Spurgeon JPG. The Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 1992; 24(11):529-536.
Tongson, E and M Dygico (2004). “User fee system for marine ecotourism: the Tubbataha Reef experience”. Coastal Management 32:17-23.
Wielgus, J., N. Chadwick-Furman, N. Zeitouni, and M. Shechter (2003). “Effects of coral reef attribute damage on recreational welfare,” Marine Resource Economics 18, 225-37.
Today's Topics:

   1. Rep. of the Marshall Islands EPA win court case for	coral
      reef damage (Andrew Finlay)


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 2008 16:16:35 +0000 (GMT)
From: Andrew Finlay <finlayrao at yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: [Coral-List] Rep. of the Marshall Islands EPA win court case
	for	coral reef damage
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Message-ID: <40690.99412.qm at web25701.mail.ukl.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Dear List

In May 2007, I made a request for some assistance in establishing an
appropriate fine for a coral reef damage incident caused by a purposeful vessel
grounding in Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Thank you to
those who assisted myself and Dean Jacobsen last year.

The defendant refused to pay the minimal $5000 fine imposed by the RMI
Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) so the EPA decided to take them to

After a long slog, Pacific International Inc (PII), were earlier this week
found guilty in the RMI High Court on three counts:? coral reef damage,
pollution of the marine water quality and damage to a local fishery. The
photographic evidence collected and testimonies given were enough to get the

This is a  landmark case, the first of its kind in RMI, as no other company in the
Marshall Islands have ever been successfully convicted of coral reef damage and this is one of
the first EPA cases in RMI. The other EPA win this year was for illegal
commercial beach mining.

I am concerned that when sentencing occurs in a few weeks, the Judge may simply pluck a fine value out of the sky,
roughly between $1000-5000. The EPA initially fined PII $5000 back in May 2007
but having researched some literature on previous cases it appears that the fine
should be much more?

We lack the resources and expertise to restore this habitat so any mitigation
work is unlikely to happen (transplanting etc.) and so I'm not totally keen
to recommend a fine based on restoration. However I have read a little on
Habitat Equivalency Analysis being used in court cases in the US for Natural
Resource Damage Assessments but I have no examples or knowledge on how to use

I ask for your kind assistance again, in providing any papers or documents on
previous coral reef damage cases to help us recommend a fine that can be backed
up by evidence of similar cases elsewhere in the World.

Also anyone who is willing to assist with helping the RMIEPA establish a figure
for the fine based on HEA or other standard valuation techniques please get in touch (sorry it
would have to be in kind assistance).

The area of reef destroyed was approximately 70m2 along with pollution of the
water (diesel - 2 mile plume for several days) and destruction of a fishery
habitat including that of coral colony home to the Three Banded Anenomefish
(Amphiprion tricinctus) only found in the Marshall Islands. Many Porites
colonies were shattered and Porites boulder corals over turned. The reef is a
lagoon reef on the outer northern islands of Majuro Atoll, off Enemanit Island,
the most popular destination for tourists and a top sight in Majuro for
snorkeling. I can provide pictures if required.I was also wondering, if any
'multiplyer' effect may be in order considering the importance of reefs
in low lying atoll nations like the Marshalls in their protection against sea
level rise? 

Thank you for any assistance

________________________________________  ?    R. Andrew O. Finlay 
  Environmental Advisor  Environmental Protection Authority  Republic of the
Marshall Islands  P.O.Box 1322, Majuro,   Marshall Islands
 96960.  ?  Tel: +692 625 3035/5203  Fax: +692 625 5202  Mob: +692 455 1471

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