Estuaries, though small, have huge economic impact: report

By Jennifer Allen, www.coastalreview.org

Though “geographically small,” estuaries are “economically huge,” according to a recently released update to a decade-old report on the economic value of these coastal regions where rivers mix with salt water.

Restore America’s Estuaries and The Ocean Foundation released in 2009 the report, “The Economic and Market Value of America’s Coasts and Estuaries: What’s at Stake?” Backed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this first report examined economic impacts of estuaries during that time to gross state and domestic product in 21 regions of the continental United States. It also reviewed the benefits of five major sectors of the economy: fisheries, energy infrastructure, marine transportation, real estate and recreation.

The 2021 update presented Nov. 3, prepared by TBD Economics and the Center for the Blue Economy, expands on the previous report and looks at natural infrastructure such as wetlands and oyster reefs, and coastal blue carbon, or the carbon captured by marine organisms and stored in coastal ecosystems, in the local economies of six case study sites: Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, Great Egg Harbor in New Jersey, Florida’s Tampa Bay, Terrebonne-Haute Basin in Louisiana, San Pablo Bay in California, and Snohomish Estuary in Washington.

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