Hawaii’s coral reefs are worth more than $30 billion, according to a peer reviewed report commissioned by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The federal government has done similar reports in the past, placing a monetary value on America’s resources, usually involving an animal or a parcel of land, but this time the government surveyed Americans on the value of Hawaii’s coral reef ecosystems. What the survey found was fairly astonishing considering that many of the 3,200 American households surveyed might not have even visited the 50th state, let alone visited the state’s coral reefs.
The question, “How much money would you devote to improve and preserve Hawaii’s coral reefs every year?” was posed to Americans from June 2009 to October 2009, according to a report on KHON2.com. And the answers that came back by those households totaled approximately $287 each year. Multiply that by the 166 million households in the United States and the value is quite large at $33.57 billion a year.
The value can be used as a legal figure when assessing Hawaii’s reefs, so in the event that an oil tanker hits one of Hawaii’s reefs, the study can serve as a starting point when assessing damages. While the study looked at the potential value of the reefs from a monetary standpoint it does not assist in helping the state to determine what role or policies the state should take with regard to the coral reefs.
The full report can be accessed here