PRICE TAG PUT ON THE REEF

New re­port quan­ti­fies Bar­rier Reef

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Peter Car­ruthers Peter.Car­ruthers@news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

A NEW re­port valu­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef at $56 bil­lion is a pos­i­tive step for­ward in con­ser­va­tion of the world’s largest liv­ing or­gan­ism ac­cord­ing to Air­lie Beach tourist op­er­a­tor and reef ad­vo­cate, Lind­say Simp­son.

Of­fi­cially launched at Hamilton is­land on Mon­day the Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nomics re­port found the reef con­trib­uted $6.4 bil­lion to the Aus­tralian econ­omy in 2015-16 and the World Her­itage listed area sup­ported 64,000 full-time jobs.

The re­port com­mis­sioned by the Great Bar­rier Reef Foun­da­tion, with sup­port from the Na­tional Bank and the Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park Au­thor­ity, as­sessed the reef’s eco­nomic, so­cial and iconic value.

Ms Simp­son, the owner the yacht Prov­i­dence which of­fers a day sail ex­pe­ri­ence around the Whit­sun­day Is­lands, said it was “as­tound­ing” that the Great Bar­rier Reef needed to be quan­ti­fied in a mone­tary value.

In face of crit­i­cism from UNESCO for not be­ing ef­fec­tive cus­to­di­ans of the reef, and Ms Simp­son’s be­lief that the needs of in­dus­try were still be­ing pri­ori­tised over the wel­fare of the reef, the val­u­a­tion was a step in the right di­rec­tion.

“Yes it’s great that some­one has put a value on it but why on earth do we need... to quan­tify it in terms of money, we have a so­cial con­science to look after the Great Bar­rier Reef,” Ms Simp­son said.

“It’s on our doorstep and we should be look­ing after it.”

Ms Simp­son said the po­ten­tial loss of a $56 bil­lion as­set had the po­ten­tial to es­ca­late con­ser­va­tion ef­forts from gov­ern­ment.

“It’s good that there has been value put on it and cer­tainly in terms of... a tourism icon that is what the visi­tors have come to see,” Ms Simp­son said.

“If that does mo­ti­vate our politi­cians... then that is good.”

The reef’s value as a tourist at­trac­tion was the big­gest con­trib­u­tor to the reef’s $56 bil­lion value, fol­lowed by $23.8 bil­lion from in­di­rect or non-use value (those who haven’t yet vis­ited the reef but value know­ing it ex­ists) and $3.2 bil­lion for its value to recre­ational users.

It is the first time that a nat­u­ral as­set’s brand value has been as­sessed on its to­tal eco­nomic, so­cial and icon value.

The val­u­a­tion of the Great Bar­rier Reef comes amid a sus­tained cam­paign by en­vi­ron­men­tal groups against Adani’s pro­posed Carmicheal mine in the Galilee Basin which they say will con­trib­ute to cli­mate change, which is the big­gest threat to the reef.

The Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nomics anal­y­sis warns of vast eco­nomic con­se­quences un­less more is done to pro­tect the reef and in­cluded a sur­vey of 1500 Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional re­spon­dents.

PHOTO: ROBERT IR­WIN

REEF RE­PORT: The Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nomics anal­y­sis warns of vast eco­nomic con­se­quences un­less more is done to pro­tect the Great Bar­rier Reef.

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