Estimating and comparing the direct economic contributions of reef fisheries and tourism in the Asia-Pacific

Bartelet, Henry A., Barnes, Michele L., and Cumming, Graeme S. (2024) Estimating and comparing the direct economic contributions of reef fisheries and tourism in the Asia-Pacific. Marine Policy, 159. 105939.

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Global estimates of the economic value of coral reefs have been made using benefit transfer and other valuation methods, but it is unclear whether these estimates match actualized values (e.g. market values of reef fish and reef tourism) or how they scale to specific regions. Here we empirically estimated the (actualized) direct economic contribution of fishing and tourism on coral reefs (i.e., direct use values) in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, which includes a majority (∼80%) of the global reef area. We found that coral reefs in the APAC region directly contributed $25 billion annually on average over the years 2008–2012 to the region’s economy from fishing and tourism alone. The majority of direct economic contributions (US$19.5 billion) was provided by reef tourism, while the remainder was divided between artisanal (US$2.4 billion) and industrial (US$3.2 billion) fisheries. The average economic productivity of coral reefs was estimated at US$112,000 per square kilometer of coral reef, although there were large deviations between countries in terms of economic utilization of their reefs. Our findings suggest that a highly-cited prior estimate of the global potential value of coral reefs (Cesar et al., 2003) is likely a significant underestimation of actual economic contributions. We discuss some of the implications for reef management. Most notably, our results indicate that the non-consumptive direct use of reef resources provide substantially more economic benefits than consumptive uses.

Item ID: 81173
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-9460
Keywords: Economic valuation; Ecosystem services; Reef conservation; Fisheries; Tourism; Marine-protected areas
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Funders: Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies)
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2023 22:04
FoR Codes: 38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380105 Environment and resource economics @ 80%
38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380116 Tourism economics @ 20%
SEO Codes: 15 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 1599 Other economic framework > 159902 Ecological economics @ 80%
11 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 1104 Tourism services > 110401 Economic issues in tourism @ 20%
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