Importance of the coral reef
The reef meets a myriad of human needs.
— Reserva Natural Arrecifes de la Cordillera
Coral reefs are one of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on the planet. It is estimated that the services and goods provided by coral reefs are valued at $ 375 billion a year (Constanza, 1997).
A healthy coral reef provides a home for a great diversity of marine organisms. In turn, it provides a vital food source for coastal communities and contributes to the local economy of many Caribbean islands through tourism.
Biodiversity : The reef provides habitat and protection for more than 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals, among other species of marine organisms. This without considering the immense number of species that remain to be discovered. This great biodiversity is key to the discovery and development of new medicines based on marine organisms, which could cure diseases such as cancer, arthritis, bacterial infections, among others.
Tourism: The diving, fishing, hotel and restaurant industries are largely influenced by the health of the ecosystem and contribute to job creation and opportunities.
Fisheries: The commercial value of coral reef fisheries in the United States is valued in excess of $ 100 million (NFFS / NOAA, 2001).
In addition, the coral reef absorbs much of the wave energy and prevents accelerated rates of erosion, property impact and loss of life. It is estimated that half a billion people live within 100 kilometers of a coral reef and benefit from its protection.
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). 2001. NMFS Office of Protected Resources Web site. www.nmfs.noaa.gov/prot_res/PR/coralhome.html .
Costanza et al., 1997. The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387: 253-260.