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Coral Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef Essay

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Updated: Apr 18th, 2021

Tourism: Interesting Activities (economic impact)

According to a report on the effects of climate change around the world, the Great Barrier Reef represents the longest reef system globally, measuring approximately 2,100 km in length (Parry 2007, p. 853). This great natural resource of the Australian economy was projected to have produced an income of US$4.48 billion in the period 2004-2005 alone. In addition to this, during the same period, the region employed a total of 63,000 full-time employees.

The majority of the tourists visiting sites such as Cairns are interested in the reef. Among the popular activities offered, one can find such as aqua dancing for ladies in the public lagoon. In addition, this bird watching is very popular among tourists in this region as there is a wide variety of species to be observed within their natural realm. There are also many other activities such as bungee jumping, various tours, snorkeling, and diving. It is clear from the nature of these activities that any permanent or long term damage to the reef is likely to cause adverse economic effects for those employed within the sector.

Along the Great Barrier Reef, the Heritage Area is among the most highly valued premium tourist destinations around the world. The area attracts over two million visitors on an annual basis, and the revenue generated just within Queensland is reported to be in the range of Aus$4 million annually (Luck 2008, p. 197). The visitors are treated to the splendor of the reef using the services of floatplanes, boat-based tour operators, or boat charter. In addition to this, glass-bottom boat tours, bushwalking, bird, turtle, and dugong watching are among the popular activities for tourists visiting the reef.

Mangrove Forests and Value of Reefs: A Part of Coral Reefs Ecosystem (economic impact)

The economic implications of the inclusion of the large figures in this report may lead the reader to inquire why the losses are so significant in the case of coral reefs. The reason behind significant losses in the case of damage done to coral reefs is that alongside mangrove forests, the coral reefs have been rated as the most valuable of the marine ecosystems all around the world. Mangroves are useful in the reduction of soil erosion and in the protection of reefs from sedimentation (Westmacott et al. 2000, p. 23).

The reefs and mangrove forests provide numerous benefits directly to the communities that live alongside them in addition to their regional and global benefits. It is for this reason the conservation of these resources can be viewed as both economic and environmental. It is reported that depending on the use to which the reef is put; coral reefs value is in the range of US$ 20,000 per 270,000 km per year to US$ 100,000 per 100,000 km per year (Phinney 2006, p. 182). The reason behind the variation in value is some reefs are used solely for fishing, and extraction is less costly, whereas others are used to support tourism industries and shoreline protection in areas that have been earmarked.

Economic Losses and the Coral Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef (economic impact)

In this area alone, it has been reported that more than 1,500 vessels and aircraft have been licensed for operation. Though there is a relative paucity of data on the actual economic losses that have been observed post bleaching, other regions have documented data that may be used to provide a position on the degree of economic losses that may be experienced. The values of reefs have also been documented in studies on various regions that have taken time to reflect on the impact of bleaching on revenue. It has been recorded that the annual income value of coral reefs exceeds billions of dollars (Phinney 2006, p. 183).

Based on this, it would appear that any damage to the reefs would cause serious economic losses for communities that rely on tourism for income generation. It was recorded in a questionnaire survey in 2000 from El Nido, Philippines that is owing to the effects of the 1998 coral bleaching, the country has experienced annual losses to the tune of US$ 1.5 million. This data, based on the decline in visitors, can be used as a reference point to stress the fact that indeed beaching does have a negative economic impact on the community.

Environmental Pollution and the Great Barrier Reef (social impact)

Given that the communities around the reef rely on this resource for income generation, any damage to the resource is likely to impact society in terms of actions by anti-globalist organizations. It has been reported that the reef plays host to a wide variety of organisms, namely 1,500 fish species, 300 species of the reef-building corals, over 4,000 mollusk species, almost 400 sponge species, among other organisms.

The warmer waters of the reef are also a breeding area for humpback whales known to migrate to give birth in warmer waters (Luck 2008, p. 196). These species and many other bird species form part of a delicate ecosystem that stands to suffer serious damage if the condition of the reef is left unattended. Among the most serious social consequences of this bleaching of the reef and the resultant death of coral is instability within a crucial ecosystem. The most immediate result of bleaching is the death of the coral, and it has been suggested that the rise in ocean temperatures has been the result of global warming…

Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef (social impact)

The Australian Government has, for the last decade, take a very serious stance concerning global warming and has focused on the issue of pollution more seriously than any other environmental issue. In accordance with this, the Government has decided to keep records of pollution in a National Pollutant Inventory to ease the process of environmental management (Trewin 2005, p. 444).

Owing to the looming threat, the Australian Government has formed the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA). This is probably the largest marine protected area in the world today. The area covered by the authority includes almost 34 million hectares (Trewin 2005, p. 439). This organization is primarily concerned with the conservation and protection of the common heritage of humanity as opposed to its exploitation.

It was deemed important owing to the fact that the region presents an example of global evolutionary history, a significant example of ongoing biological and ecological processes. In response to this threat, there has been a global social responsibility to make attempts at conservation. The organization formally addresses both the management and protection of marine areas as well as monitoring the use of the resource. Similar initiatives can be declared under the commonwealth, state, or territorial legislation in waters within their jurisdiction. Among the areas that have been given special attention include the reefs, seagrass beds, shipwrecks, archaeological sites, etc.

References

Luck, M., 2008. The encyclopaedia of tourism and recreation in marine environments. Oxford, UK: CAB International.

Parry, M. L., 2007. Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Phinney, J. T., 2006. Coral Reefs and Climate Change: Science and Management. Washington, USA: American Geophysical Union.

Trewin, D., 2005. Year book Australia: Issue 87. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Westmacott, S., et al., 2000. Management of bleached and severely damaged coral reefs. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: The World Conservation Union.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Coral Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef." April 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/coral-bleaching-on-the-great-barrier-reef/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Coral Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef'. 18 April.

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