Bermuda Reefs valued at $722 Million
A study conducted by UK's environment economists along with Bermuda's Department of Conservation Studies shows that the total valuation of the Coral Reefs around the Bermuda Waters have an annual value of over $722M.
It even has the potential to go up to $1.1 Billion per year. This has been a huge eye opener to all in the island to understand how important it is to protect the Bermuda Coral Reefs.
So how was the valuation done?
The valuation is known as the Total Economic Value (TEV) of the reefs. It has been derived based on the role the Bermuda reefs play to protect the island and help grow its economy. The main areas of considerations were:
Tourism: The coral reefs play a huge role in tourism that includes reef diving, snorkeling and even glass bottom boating tours that let visitors watch some of the finest marine life and reefs in Bermuda waters.
More than a third of the visitors out of over 400 surveyed mentioned that they were coming to Bermuda for the Coral Reefs. A total annual valuation of $406 Million has been assigned to Coral Reefs that comes from Tourism alone.
This valuation was done based on an earning analysis of 13 diving/snorkeling/boat operators in the island.
Coastal Protection: The reefs in Bermuda act as barriers and protect erosion of shore line against strong high waves. They also protect the houses and properties from damages against storms and hurricanes.
The surveyors took a stock of such damages caused by earlier hurricanes like the Fabian and estimated the value of coral reef at $266 Million on account of coastal protection.
Recreational and Cultural Value: Groups of residents, experts and government officials were surveyed to understand the recreational value of the reef system to Bermudians and visitors. For example recreational activities like game fishing in Bermuda reefs, snorkeling etc. are quite popular in the island.
A value of $36.5M has been placed on this area. However, the survey also showed that less than half the Bermuda residents are willing to pay environmental levy to maintain the coral reefs.
Amenity Value: This is the value arrived from the relationship of houses to the distance to the beach. About 600 homes were used for the purpose of calculation. A value of $6.8 Million has been assigned to coral reefs on this account.
Fishery: This is mainly the market value of the fish catch that are aided by the reefs. The direct feedback was received mainly from fishermen and the Marine Resource Section of Bermuda. The indirect feedback was taken from about 400 households. Its value was put at $4.9 Million.
Research and Educational Value: This estimate is based on the budget used by the governmental and non-governmental research institutes and organizations in study of the coral reef systems in Bermuda. Its value was put at $2.3 Million.
Dr. Samia Sarkis from Department of Conservation Services in Bermuda said:
"This study has demonstrated the importance that coral reefs hold in the eye of the community and the tourists, reflected in their willingness to trade off monies (up to $50 million per year) for conservation and management of the reef system".
"The increased awareness will continue to generate support among the community and policy and decision-makers for ensuring sustainable development."
By the way, Bermuda Coral Reefs, one of the northern most reef systems in the world, sustain water temperature differences between 63 to 83 degrees (F) between the winter and summer seasons. They are able to remain healthy despite such harsh treatments whereas the reefs in the Caribbean waters barely take 2 -3 degrees temperature differences.