Mak­ing waves Mex­ico in­sures its co­ral reef

The Guardian Weekly - - International News - Fiona Har­vey Photo: Alamy

A stretch of co­ral reef off Mex­ico is the test­ing ground for a new idea that could pro­tect frag­ile en­vi­ron­ments around the world: in­sur­ance.

The reef, off the coast of Cancún, is the first to be pro­tected un­der an in­sur­ance scheme by which the pre­mi­ums will be paid by lo­cal ho­tels and gov­ern­ment, and money to pay for the re­pair of the reef will be re­leased if a storm strikes.

Co­ral reefs of­fer a valu­able buf­fer against storm dam­age from waves but their con­di­tion has de­te­ri­o­rated in re­cent years, the re­sult of hu­man ex­ploita­tion and de­struc­tion of the reefs, as well as cli­mate change and the acid­i­fi­ca­tion of the oceans.

Un­der the Cancún in­sur­ance pol­icy, pi­o­neered by the in­sur­ance com­pany Swiss Re and the Na­ture Con­ser­vancy, a US en­vi­ron­men­tal char­ity, lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions de­pen­dent on tourism will pay into a col­lec­tive pot likely to amount to be­tween $1m and $7.5m for the in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums on the pol­icy, and a 60km stretch of reef and con­nected beach will be mon­i­tored. If any de­struc­tive storms dam­age the reef sys­tem, the in­surer will pay out sums likely to be $25m to $70m in any given year.

Any pay­outs will be used for restora­tion of the reef, for in­stance, by build­ing ar­ti­fi­cial struc­tures that can in­crease the height of the reef in case of storm dam­age.

Co­rals can be re­moved and rested to help them re­grow, at which point they can be safely reat­tached to their na­tive habi­tat to re­gen­er­ate the growth of the reef sys­tem.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.