The Associated Press - Americans peg the value of coral reefs around the main Hawaiian Islands at $33.57 billion, a study commissioned by the federal government said last week. Officials frequently cite coral reefs as being vital to tourism and other industries. But there's been no dollar figure to accompany such statements, so the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asked researchers to study the issue.
"Scientists and governments charged with protecting coral reefs have been saying for a long time that they're valuable, but there really aren't good estimates in a very comprehensive, thorough study of what these dollar values are," said Norman Meade, senior economist in NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration. "This is an attempt to get to that question." The study hasn't yet appeared in a publication, but the authors plan to submit it to a top environmental economic journal.