A study of the Australian oceans’ economic value has pegged the total number at $25 billion dollars a year. Research director for the Sydney Center for Policy Development said, It’s not an easy thing to put a price on the value of life let alone an ecological treasure chest that sustains and if protected could sustain us for future lifetimes, but that’s what this study aims to do.” (Source: ChinaDaily)
Australia is surrounded by beautiful, biologically-rich marine habitats. Marine tourism brings in an estimated $11 billion a year. Depletion of fish stocks and marine wildlife could cause the loss of 9,000 jobs, says the study. The largest economic benefit, was found to be taking carbon out of the air and atmosphere. This natural function of the oceans as a carbon sink (including seagrass beds and coral reefs) was calculated to be $15.8 billion.
Protecting regional fish stocks could bring in another $3.3 billion a year, if global overfishing continues, meaning Australia’s market would increase in value to meet the same level of demand. The study says that currently forty-two percent of Australia’s fish populations are in need of being rebuilt, so there is room for increased economic growth if that were to occur. Five recommendations for sustainably managing Australia’s oceans were included in the report for consideration by the national government.
One area of concern is deep sea fisheries, which have been operated like terrestrial mining operations in some cases. Ending deep sea fisheries would be particularly appropriate for the high seas outside the [exclusive economic zones] of maritime countries, where fisheries from a few countries are harming the biodiversity that is a vital interest for all of humankind,” said an American scientist. (Source: smh.au)
One thing that was mentioned is the potential for the economic value of Australia’s oceans to increase over time. As climate change worsens, the value of natural carbon removal will likely increase. Increases in the human population might also create more interest in developing aquaculture, especially if there is less arable land available with more droughts and other extreme weather.
Image Credit: NASA, Public Domain
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