A peer-reviewed study commissioned by NOAA shows the American people assign an estimated total economic value of $33.57 billion for the coral reefs of the main Hawaiian Islands.
"The study shows that people from across the United States treasure Hawaii's coral reefs, even though many never get to visit them," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "It illustrates the economic value of coral reefs to all Americans, and how important it is to conserve these ecosystems for future generations."
"We are pleased that research is being done to look at the value of Hawaii's coral reefs, but before we consider any potential applications of the study we will consult closely with local communities," said William J. Aila, Jr., chairperson of the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The study employed a scientifically developed national Internet survey of more than 3,100 households a representative sample of all U.S. residents, not just Hawaii or coastal residents. From June through October 2009, the survey allowed the public to express its preferences and values for protection and restoration of the coral reef ecosystems around the main Hawaiian Islands. In this study, total economic value includes so-called passive use values, such as the willingness to pay to protect the coral reef ecosystem for future generations, as well as direct use values, such as snorkeling over a coral reef or consuming fish supported by coral reef ecosystems.
A panel of independent university and private scientists, from both Hawaii and the continental U.S., provided facts to the survey design team about the Hawaiian coral reef ecosystems and provided estimates of how the coral reef ecosystems would change in response to the two possible management options. The descriptions, including illustrations, of improvement to coral ecosystems gave survey respondents a clear
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