Colin Durrant, CLF Director of Communications
Washington, DC (May 21, 2008) – A new report released today documents the economic value of the nation’s coastal areas in excess of hundreds of billions of dollars. According to the report, “The Economic and Market Value of Coasts and Estuaries: What’s At Stake?” beaches, coastal communities, ports, and fragile bays that are protected and managed in a sustainable way are economic engines that drive and support large sectors of the national economy.
At the National Press Club, Jeff Benoit, President of Restore America Estuaries and Dr. Linwood Pendleton, of The Ocean Foundation’s Coastal Ocean Values Center, detailed their findings, including:
The full report can be downloaded at: www.estuaries.org.
“The productivity of our coastlines is up there with the Fortune 500’s” said Benoit. “Yet historically, we have overlooked the critical role our coasts play in contributing to the national economy.”
According to the report, there is a growing need for a national investment in protecting and restoring vital coastal environments to help grow America’s employment, tourism, trade capabilities, and recreational and commercial fisheries. “How well we maintain these resources will be the bellwether for how our economic sectors respond” said Peter Shelley, Vice President of Conservation Law Foundation and Board Member of Restore America’s Estuaries. Conservation Law Foundation, located in Boston, MA, is one of eleven community-based conservation organizations that comprise Restore America’s Estuaries.
“The findings, compiled by a panel of internationally renowned experts, just scratch the surface in our understanding of the value of coasts and estuaries” said Pendleton “It’s astonishing. In this report we focus only on those sectors of the economy that depend on ecologically healthy coasts and estuaries, and still the numbers are huge. We are only now coming to grips with the enormity of the economic value and potential from sustainable uses of our coastal resources, and more importantly, the potential economic losses we suffer each year because of underinvestment in coastal protection and restoration.”
Findings documented in the report include values gained from healthy coasts, such as:
The report also identifies the threats and costs associated with damaged ecosystems that could be restored:
“America’s coasts are a national treasure in more ways than one,” said Admiral James D. Watkins, (U.S. Navy, Ret.) co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative. “Namely, they are a significant and growing economic resource for our nation. If we focus on smart investment in the restoration and preservation of our coastline, we can ensure that this treasure pays dividends for years to come.”
The report focuses on aspects of coasts and estuaries that are most dependent on ecologically healthy conditions. The authors also examined a growing body of research that reveals the economic consequences of environmental change in coastal and estuary ecosystems. The report, is the first step in a longer-term effort by the organization to make the economic value of restoration a more integral part of coastal planning and management. Restore America’s Estuaries and The Ocean Foundation’s Coastal Ocean Values Center have embarked on new research with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Restoration Center to develop methods to quantify the economic returns from coastal restoration with a pilot project set to begin in Southern California’s Santa Monica Bay this June.
This project was made possible through funding provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Minerals Management Service, The McKnight Foundation, Shell – World Sponsor of America’s Wetland: Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana, and National Wildlife Federation.
For more details on the report members of the media can contact:
Jeff Benoit, (703) 524-0248
Dr. Linwood Pendleton, (805) 794-8206
Restore America’s Estuaries is a national alliance of community-based conservation organizations from the East, West, and Gulf coasts with a mission of preserving the nation’s network of estuaries by protecting and restoring the lands and water essential to the richness and diversity of coastal life. Members include: American Littoral Society; Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Conservation Law Foundation; Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana; Galveston Bay Foundation; North Carolina Coastal Federation; People For Puget Sound; Save The Bay – Narragansett Bay; Save San Francisco Bay Association; Save the Sound – A program of the CT Fund for the Environment; and Tampa Bay Watch. Restore America’s Estuaries is organizing the 4th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration, October 11 – 15, 2008, in Providence, Rhode Island. Visit www.estuaries.org for more information.
The Ocean Foundation’s Coastal Ocean Values Center is a research center dedicated to helping local, national, and international coastal managers find, analyze, and use economic information to promote coastal restoration and sustainable use. Visit www.coastalvalues.org for more information.
The Conservation Law Foundation (www.clf.org) works to solve the most significant environmental challenges facing New England. CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to create innovative strategies to conserve natural resources, protect public health and promote vital communities in our region. Founded, in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.