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Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs in Tobago – . June 13, 2008 Tobago Lauretta Burke World Resources Institute. Trinidad and Tobago Buccoo Reef Trust T&T Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) Tobago House of Assembly (THA) / Policy Research Development Institute (PRDI)

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economic valuation of coral reefs in tobago

Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs in Tobago –

June 13, 2008


Lauretta Burke

World Resources Institute

project partners include
Trinidad and Tobago

Buccoo Reef Trust

T&T Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA)

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) / Policy Research Development Institute (PRDI)

T&T Central Statistics Office (CSO)

T&T Environmental Management Agency (EMA)

Environment Tobago and SOS

Saint Lucia

Government of Saint Lucia

Regional Partners

University of the West Indies (UWI) / Sustainable Economic Development Unit (SEDU)

Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI)

Project Partners Include

Financial Support

  • Macarthur Foundation
  • Ocean Foundation
  • Henry Foundation
  • Munson Foundation
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • SwedBio
  • International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN)
  • Buccoo Reef Trust
  • Coastal development
  • Mangrove removal
  • Sewage
  • Dredging
  • Runoff
  • Tourism
  • Overfishing
  • Warming Seas
influencing better management
Influencing Better Management
  • Economic Valuation is a tool to guide coastal planning, investment and management in the long-term interest of local communities and the country
evaluating trade offs

Development options

Enforcement of regulations

Capping tourist numbers

Investing in pollution control


Revenue streams from tourism

Societal benefits from reefs

Ecosystem goods and services

Evaluating trade-offs
economic valuation of coral reefs
Economic Valuation of Coral Reefs
  • WRI (with partners) developed a coral reef valuation methodology and implemented valuations for the coral reefs of Tobago and St. Lucia.
  • The study evaluated the overall annual economic contribution of coral reef-associated
    • tourism and recreation,
    • fisheries, and
    • shoreline protection services.
non valued services
Non-Valued Services

Total Economic Value (TEV) would also include:

Other Use Values:

  • Research Values
  • Option Values (e.g. pharmaceutical)
  • Carbon storage

Non-Use Values

  • Bequest Value
  • Existence Value

We focus on values that can be reliably estimated using available data

valuation summary
Valuation Summary

Coral reef-associated tourism and recreation – contributed between US$100 and $130 million to the national economy in 2006.

Photo: BRT

valuation summary15
Valuation Summary

Coral reef-associated fisheries–

  • important for cultural tradition, safety net, and livelihood
  • provide annual economic benefits estimated at between US$0.8 – 1.3 million.

Photo: BRT

valuation summary16
Valuation Summary

Shoreline Protection Services of Coral Reefs–

  • avoided erosion and storm damage from waves valued between US$18 and $33 million per year.
valuation summary17
Valuation Summary
  • Tourism and Recreation - US$100 to $130 million in 2006.
  • Coral reef-associated fisheries - US$0.8 – 1.3 million / year
  • Shoreline protection services –US$18 and $33 million per year.
  • These are significant compared to Tobago’s GDP, which was $286 million in 2006.
  • Coral reefs provide other important values not estimated in this study, and these numbers should be regarded as a lower bound estimate.
coral reefs economically important to tobago
Coral Reefs – Economically Important to Tobago

Valuation can highlight:

  • Significant contribution to GDP
  • Taxes paid to government
  • Jobs and wages dependent on coral reefs
  • Value of social safety net


  • Coastal Planning (shoreline protection analysis)
  • Evaluation of trade-offs
economic valuation applications
Economic Valuation applications
  • Estimate Economic Contribution to GDP
  • Compare benefits of development / management options
  • Encourage increased investment in coastal management / MPAs / fisheries management
  • Identify sources of support for management / policy / protected areas
  • Set fees, such as visitor fees
  • Damage assessment


tobago specific examples
Tobago-specific examples
  • Evaluate the costs and benefits of investing in more active management of Buccoo Reef Marine Park
  • Evaluating the benefits of investment in improved sewage treatment in SW Tobago
  • Examine changes in fisheries management and the impact on short-term livelihoods versus long-term benefits
  • Comparing the benefits of consumptive vs. non-consumptive use of sea turtles
econ val project characteristics
Econ Val Project Characteristics
  • Develop method which is simple and replicable
  • Rely predominantly on existing, available data
  • Produce coral reef valuation estimates for two pilot areas (Tobago and St. Lucia)
  • Estimate likely economic loss due to coral reef degradation
valuation main components
Valuation – Main Components


Method: Financial Analysis

(Net revenues plus transfers)


Method: Financial Analysis

(Net revenues plus transfers)

Shoreline Protection

Method: “Avoided Damages”

tourism components
Tourism Components
  • Accommodation
  • Reef Recreation – Diving
  • Reef Recreation – Snorkeling
  • Marine Park Revenues
  • Misc. Expenses (e.g., departure taxes, visitor expenditure)
  • Local Use
  • Indirect economic effects
tourism valuation issues
Tourism Valuation issues
  • Identifying “coastal” visitors
  • Quantifying reef recreation
  • Getting accurate MPA visitation numbers
  • Tobago-specific data
tourism and recreation valuation assumptions
Tourism and Recreation Valuation Assumptions
  • 40% of visitors come to Tobago in part due to the reefs.
local reef use survey
Local Reef Use Survey
  • Commissioned a survey through the University of West Indies / Sustainable Economic Development Unit / Government of St. Lucia, Department of Statistics
  • 300 people surveyed in 6 locations in Tobago (Reef - Buccoo, Pigeon Point, and Speyside, and non-reef - Mt. Pleasant, Roxborough, and Patience Hill)
  • Designed to measure local use of beaches and reefs as well as recreational and subsistence fishing
fisheries components
Fisheries Components
  • Commercial Fisheries
  • Fish Processing and Cleaning
  • Local Use (fishing)
  • Indirect economic effects
  • Focus on reef-associated species – snapper, grouper, grunts, squirrelfish, parrot fish, lobster and conch.
fisheries valuation issues
Fisheries Valuation Issues
  • Lack of meaningful data on fish landings
  • Limited data on sales and exports
  • Limited data on local use
  • Focus on economic impact – does not fully capture social values.
commercial fishing in tobago
Commercial Fishing in Tobago
  • Estimate derived from two approaches –
    • reef fish productivity
    • estimated pot fishing effort
  • Coral reefs are over-fished Tobago / productivity is declining
a reef fish productivity
a) Reef Fish Productivity
  • Reef Area: 30 km2(from this project)
  • Estimated fish productivity rate: range of 2 to 5 MT of fish / km2 of coral reef
  • Potential sustainable harvest of 130,000 to 330,000 lb of reef fish
b landings based on boats
b) Landings based on boats
  • 16 boats doing pot fishing, average 105 trips per year, landing an average of 150 - 200 lbs per trip
  • This leads to an estimated 250,000 - 336,000 lbs of fish caught.(Comparable to the maximum productivity estimate)
  • Average Price of pot fish = TT$15 ($2.50 US), leads to gross value of catch of US$630,000 - 840,000.
b landings based on boats cont
b) Landings based on boats (cont.)
  • We assume an additional 15,000 - 20,000 lbs of lobster caught (and US$7 per pound for lobster) so US$106,000 - 140,000
  • Total Gross revenue = US$735,000 - 981,000.
shoreline protection services
Shoreline Protection Services
  • Innovative method for isolating the role of coral reefs and integrating economics
  • Map outputs –
    • Shoreline protected by coral reefs
    • Areas vulnerable to waves \ storm damage
    • Relative contribution of reefs to shoreline protection
physical factors
Physical Factors

Physical factors affecting the protection afforded by a coral reef:

  • orientation of the coast (windward / leeward; high energy or low energy coast)
  • bathymetry / shoreline profile
  • shoreline shape (bay, headland)
  • depth of the reef / geology (type of reef)
  • distance the reef is from land
complex analysis
Complex Analysis
  • IMA developed shoreline protection framework - rules for how much protection the reef affords this coastline situation.
  • Can be adapted for climate scenarios
shoreline protection analysis 5 steps
Shoreline Protection Analysis (5 Steps)
  • Identify vulnerable areas
  • Identify areas protected by coral reefs
  • Evaluate the relative protection provided by reefs
  • Incorporate property values
  • Combine to evaluate potential storm damage avoided


6% of Tobago’s land area rated “vulnerable.

shoreline stability factors from ima
Shoreline Stability Factors (from IMA)
  • Coastal Geomorphology
  • Coastal Geology
  • Coastal Protection Structures
  • Wave Energy
  • Storm/Hurricane Events
  • Coral Reef Index (Reef type, continuity, distance offshore)
  • Coastal Elevation
  • Coastal Slope
  • Coastal Vegetation
  • Anthropogenic Activities
stability factors used in tobago analysis
Stability Factors used in Tobago Analysis
  • Coastal Geomorphology
  • Coastal Geology
  • Wave Energy
  • Storm/Hurricane Events
  • Coral Reef Index (Reef type, continuity, distance offshore)
  • Coastal Elevation

Not Available

  • Coastal Vegetation
  • Coastal Slope
  • Coastal Protection Structures
  • Anthropogenic Activities
potentially avoided damages
Potentially Avoided Damages
  • Estimated based on property values in “vulnerable areas” which are “protected by a reef,” based on the “relative reef contribution” for that area.
  • Tobago – property values estimated at US$18 – 22 per square foot
policy exploration buccoo reef
Tourist Destination

Environmental issues

water quality


reef condition

BRMP - enforcement

Policy Exploration – Buccoo Reef
management options buccoo reef
Enforcement of no-fishing regulations

Re-routing of storm drain

Integrated watershed management

Sewage treatment

Management Options – Buccoo Reef
economic value buccoo reef
Glass-bottom / snorkel Tours –US$1.4 mill / yr


US$7-8 million / yr

US$128 – 156 million over 25 years

Shoreline protection - US$140-250 million over 25 years

Economic Value – Buccoo Reef
policy recommendations for tobago
Policy Recommendations for Tobago
  • Improve coastal water quality
  • Maintain coastal mangroves
  • Establish an entrance fee to BRMP and use revenue for park management
  • Monitor marine recreation and manage within sustainable limits
  • Improve mapping and monitoring of coral reefs and mangroves
policy recommendations for tobago continued
Policy Recommendations for Tobago (continued)
  • Improve fishing survey design, data collection and information management at THA to allow tracking of fishing effort and catch over time
  • Monitor sea turtle populations – manage sustainably
  • Use the coral reef valuation methodology and Tool to track the economic contribution of coral reefs over time

Thank You

Available online at and


WRI –Lauretta Burke, +1 (202) 729 7774,

BRT – Hyacinth Armstrong, +868 635 2000,

IMA – Sean Paddy, (868) 634 4291 x405,