Environmental, economic and social costs of coral reef destruction in the Philippines

Environmental, economic and social costs of coral reef destruction in the Philippines

Primary Country: Philippines
Ecosystem: coral reef
Sample Value Estimates:
  1. $10 million : Productive use values: global aquarium trade attributable to the Philippine Coral Reefs
  2. Pesos 1,600 million ($80 million U.S.): Value of lost harvest of fishes from cyanide fishing in the Philippines
Methodology: productivity change
Region: Asia
Data source: NOAA's Coral Reef Valuation Database

Publication information

McAllister, D.E. “Environmental, economic and social costs of coral reef destruction in the Philippines” Galaxea 7, 161-178, 1988

Addtional Notes

The price of Phillippine aquarium species is discounted internationally due to method of capture. The value could be could be increased by 50% with sustainable production practices. Journal

McAllister, Don E.


Environmental, Economic and Social Costs of Coral Reef Destruction in the PhilippinesGalaxea

7pp. 161 - 178

environmental costs/economic costs/social costs/coral reef threats/coral reef destruction/job loss/income loss

Article summarizes the environmental, economic and social costs of two decades of coral reef degradation and destruction of coral reefs in the Philippines. Threats to the coral reefs identified were sedimentation from logging, the use of explosives for fishing (blast fishing), the use of cyanide for food fish and aquarium trade fish, coral reef quarrying for construction material, sedimentation and pesticides from agriculture, pollution from industry, mining and municiplaties and coral gathering for the curious and aquarium trade. Author's Abstract During the last two decades the biotically diverse and productive reefs of the Philippines have been subject to extensive destruction by sedimentation and deforestation, destructive fishing methods, pollution, poor agricultural practices, and quarrying of reefs. An estimated 150,000 kg (330 U.S. tons) of sodium cyanide is used on the coral reefs each year to catch fishes worth 1,600 million pesos ($80 million U.S.) and at least 127,000 small-scale fishing jobs leaving over 637,000 family members without support. Multiplier employment effects suggest that over one million persons are affected. The commercial food fishery, aquarium fish, sports diving and tourist trades have also suffered from coral reef destruction. The sociological effects are deep and far reaching. More than 5 million Filipinos are deficient in proteins, vitamins and minerals which could have been derived from seafood. Up to 59% of children in coastal communities suffer malnutrition. This and the poverty associated with reef destruction leads to illness, early death, stress on the nation's health care system, and migration of people to slums of the cities. The quality of human life is seriously diminished. Destruction of coral reefs is a major contributor to poverty in coastal communities. The economic independence of fisherfolk is lessened as income levels fall. From 1966 to 1986, while productivity of the coral reefs dropped by at least one third, the population of the Philippines almost doubled and is expected to double again in 40 years. These two changes have meant that the square kilometer of reef in 1966 helped support 900 persons, in 1986 had to support 2,631 persons. Habitat destruction and population increase have been the primary causes of exceeding sustainable yields, overfishing is a secondary consequence. Practical short-term and long-term alternatives exist to most of the problems that are causing the destruction of one of the country's primary resources, the productive and beautiful coral reefs. Habitat destruction equals or exceeeds in importance the secondary problem of overfishing, and resources need to be made available to restore the coral reefs, one of the nation's most important natural resources. Sea reform is needed as badly as land reform.

Two decades of coral reef degradation and destruction in the Philippines. Environmental, economic and social costs are discussed and some quantitative estimates in lost production of fisheries are estimated and the lost nutritional food value to a malnurished population.


coral reefsVarious reports and government statistics on commercial fishing catch.

1966 to 1986

Value of lost harvest of fishes: 1,600 million pesos ($80 million U.S.) Lost Jobs to Small-Scale Fishermen: 127,000Benefits transfer. Use estimates from other studies on coral reef fish production per square kilometer of coral reef for reefs in various conditions (e.g., poor, fair, good, excellent). Using the good condition, the author calculates a sustainable yield per year. This yield minus the actual yields equals the losses in potential fish production. Fish are valued at 10 pesos per kilogram to yield approximately $80 million U.S.. A multiplier of 2 is used to derive an estimate of $160 million U.S. in lost fishery production per year. For number of jobs lost, catch per small-scale fisherman is used with lost production to derive number of lost fishing jobs. An average of fisher's household size of four was used to derive an estimate of the number of family members impacted. Again using multiplier analysis, it is concluded that over a million persons are affected by the loss in employment.

0Bob Leeworthy

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