Catch of the Week
Value of Coral Triangle  Reefs’ Fisheries estimated at $3 billion

Value of Coral Triangle Reefs’ Fisheries estimated at $3 billion

Catch of the Week


A new study estimates that reef fishes in the Coral Triangle are worth $3 billion, comprising 30% of the total value of commercial fisheries in the region, based on datasets gathered from the Food and Agriculture Organization.

This figure is probably an underestimate and does not include the value of small reef fish species eaten by tunas, estimated at $150 million. The study also estimates that coral reef ecosystems in the region support employment of about 15 million small-scale fishers.

The study, called The Economics of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Coral Triangle, was commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and cofinanced by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Australian Agency for International Development to estimate the cost needed to protect and conserve the Coral Triangle ecosystems.

More than 2,500 species of reef fish can be found in the Coral Triangle area, an ecoregion which includes Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands—collectively known as the CT6. One of the unique features of the fisheries in the CT6 is its high biological diversity and wealth of marine resources that are locally exploited for commercial purpose and subsistence.

In the Solomon Islands, coral reef ecosystems supply fishing communities with a substantial portion of their fish food, materials, and trade at an average of SI$18,000–75,000 per respondent per year, based on a survey from the World Fish Center (as of this writing, the exchange rate of SI$ to US$ was 7.1:1).

Patrick Safran, principal officer on fragile situations of the Pacific Department at ADB

Patrick Safran, principal officer on fragile situations of the Pacific Department at ADB

“We cannot overemphasize the importance of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI),” says Patrick Safran, principal officer on fragile situations of the Pacific Department at ADB. “Food security, livelihood, and economies of the CTI countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific mainly depend on coral reef ecosystems and their coastal and marine resources. We certainly would not want to see a future where families living near the coastline could no longer fish and feed themselves.”

Safran adds that people living in the Coral Triangle area cannot afford to maintain a “business as usual” approach and risk losing the opportunity to keep, if not increase, the values (economical, ecological, and sociocultural) of these resources.

Through various technical assistance projects, ADB and GEF support the Coral Triangle countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific to build capacities, enhance policies, and undertake conservation projects to ensure that coral reef ecosystems are resilient enough to withstand and recover from human and natural disturbances and pressures. Some of these initiatives include habitat mapping, establishment of marine protected areas, preparation of integrated coastal zone management plans for selected coastal areas, and building capacities in ecosystem-based fisheries management from national to community level.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT: The Economics of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Coral Triangle

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT: Pacific Studies Series: Fisheries in the Economies of the Pacific Island Countries and Territories

Avatar of James Ong Written by James Ong

1 Comment
  1. I was interested to see in EFACT the economics of the coral trade in the Solomon Islands, based on collecting live corals for aquarium exports and larger colonies sold dead for the curio market. The EFACT report says that collecting corals “is an important source of cash income at the community level and that a portion of their non-food requirements may be covered from this source.” Yet, the results of their survey show that at the present level of exports, the collector receives only 1.7% of daily nonfood expenditures of SI$12.09.

    The coral collecting must be important or the villagers wouldn’t be doing it. The EFACT results need checking. At the stated average price per piece of coral of SI$2.50, daily income at present export levels (10 pieces per day) would be SI$25.00, more than 200% of the amount needed to cover daily nonfood expenses. Perhaps I am not seeing all the data behind the result.

    However, the results are said to be comparable with a 2010 WorldFish report on sustainable farming marine ornamentals in the Solomon Islands. That report said “an analysis of the income received by farmers from marine ornamentals showed that on average farmers earned an income of SI$500 -SI$2,600 (US$60–US$320) per year, contributing between 20%–80% of their household cash needs.”

    But the Worldfish report refers to sustainable farming primarily of giant clams and to a lesser extent corals; none were for curios. The Table that is the basis of the calculations in EFACT shows that rural, annual nonfood needs total about SI$4,400 plus SI$14,600 for food expenditures. On that basis, the WorldFish income results would have represented a maximum of about 60% (2,600/4,400) of nonfood needs or a maximum of 18% of all household cash needs, with the major income share derived from clams.

    The comparison implies that sustainable farming of marine ornamentals is unlikely to thrive when simple collection yields better income.

    Jay Maclean
    Technical Communication Specialist

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *