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How the Ocean Is Worth $24 TRILLION—and Why That Value Is Dropping

The ocean's value is US$24 trillion, with a gross marine product of $2.5 trillion made each year, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.

If money talks, then the ocean has something to say.

The ocean's value is estimated to be US$24 trillion, with a "gross marine product" of US$2.5 trillion that it contributes to the global economy each year, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund. If it were counted as a county, the ocean would knock Brazil out of it's place as the world's seventh largest economy and come in behind Great Britain. Perhaps it should take a seat a the G8 summit with the other biggest economies in the world...

The ocean's "gross marine product" each year makes it comparable to the world's seventh largest economy. Credit/WWF

Here's what makes the ocean worth $24 trillion:

  • $6.9 trillion is the direct output from marine fisheries, mangroves, seagrass and coral reefs. This includes the fish we eat and any product we get from the ocean.
  • $5.2 trillion is the estimated value of the ocean as a highway for ships that criss-cross goods across the world. Without the ocean, global trade would be much more costly and difficult.
  • $7.8 trillion is the value given to the coastline, which generates a huge amount of income from tourism and coastal attractions.
  • $4.3 trillion is estimated price tag of the ocean as a carbon absorber and generator of half the earth's oxygen. But really, how can you put a dollar sign on clean air?

The oyster industry in the Pacific North West has lost US $110 million to water acidity. Credit: Flickr/
A Guy Taking Pictures

Although the ocean is an economic powerhouse, that dollar value is dropping fast thanks to human impact, according to WWF's report. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • The Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coastline generates US $5.7 billion annual and 69,000 people are employed because of it. However, the reef has lost 50 percent of its reef-building corals and warmer waters means coral is bouncing back slower and slower.
  • Mangroves have a dollar value of $57,000 a hectare because of the carbon they keep out of the atmosphere as well as the fish that call them home,  water they clean and protection they provide from erosion. The deforestation of mangroves is three to five times greater than forests on land creating an annual economic loss of US$42 billion.
  • In the Pacific Northwest, the oyster industry has already missed out on US$110 million in revenue because of the impact of water acidity. A decrease in 3,200 jobs is also due to water acidity in the oyster industry.

    Mangroves are worth US $57 k per hectare to the world economy. Credit: Flickr/Len Matthews

The ocean is a priceless asset to our planet. But if we continue to treat it so poorly, it could become worthless.

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