Hawaii & Alaska
Honolulu Civil Beat

HI - Why Hawaii Should Invest In Protecting Its Reefs

A recent paper in Nature Sustainability led by researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz and the U.S. Geological Survey reveals how valuable coral reefs are at protecting people, structures and economic activity in the United States from coastal flooding during storms.

According to the study, Hawaii receives the greatest total economic benefit from reefs of all U.S. states and territories, estimated at $831 million per year in damage protection.

In fact, the economic benefits of flood protection in Hawaii are greater than those in all other regions combined. Flood protection from coral reefs is valued at $394 million per year on Oahu and $375 million per year on Maui.

Healthy coral reefs are the foundation of our nearshore ocean ecosystem and economy. In addition to flood protection, reefs provide $10 million in nearshore fisheries that support local families, and more than $1.6 billion in value to tourism each year — all while supporting the recreational, cultural and spiritual renewal of residents and visitors alike.

But human impacts and a changing climate are creating unprecedented threats to coral reefs here and around the world. Hawaii’s reefs are a valuable and irreplaceable natural asset, and we need to invest in their protection.

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