In 1999, two Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) were established off the coast of Upolu, Samoa. Since then we have seen major changes in sea level rise, sea surface temperature, and ocean pH, all of which contribute to the fatality of corals. This year 83 km of coral cover was sampled off the coasts of Upolu. Out of all the areas sampled, the highest coral cover was found within these MPA’s!
In order to manage the moving and changing oceans, our policy has to be flexible. Dynamic ocean management is a tactic that merges ecology with economics and social science to better protect the oceans over a changing range of space and time.
Most economic assessments only look at the protection provided to coastal areas by artificial defenses such as seawalls. However, a recent assessment looked at the protection provided by natural reef defenses. The assessment found that coral reefs in Hawaii and Florida prevent flooding to more than 18,000 individuals (which would cost $1.805 billion USD in damages) every single year!
Photo by Ellie Jones