Valuing the oceans

Posted: 20 March 2008

Oceans ecosystems provide goods and services worth at least $21 trillion a year, over half of this from coastal ecosystems. The haul of seafood alone is valued at around $70 billion a year and provides direct employment to 200 million small-scale and commercial fishers.

In addition, as many as half a billion people draw their livelihoods indirectly from the sea: processors, packers, shippers, and distributors of seafood; shipbuilders and outfitters; and those working in marine based tourism and recreational fishing.

Coral reefs have been valued at $47,000 per square foot just for their shore protection functions alone. In Puget Sound, Washington State, just one-third of a hectare of eelgrass is valued at over $400,000 annually in energy derived and nutrition generated for oyster culture, fisheries and waterfowl.