Healthy reefs support local—and global—economies. Through the tourism industry and fisheries, coral reefs generate billions of dollars—and millions of jobs—in more than 100 countries around the world. Studies show that on average, countries with coral reef industries derive more than half of their gross national product from them.

A good example can be found in Bonaire, a small Caribbean island. Bonaire earns about USD $23 million annually from coral reef activities, yet managing its marine park costs less than $1 million per year (Talbot F., and C. Wilkinson, 2001, Coral Reefs, Mangroves and Seagrasses: A Sourcebook for Managers). The variety of marine life and protected beaches supported by coral reefs provide an inviting setting for sightseers, sunbathers, snorkelers, and scuba divers—and huge economic benefits to communities. A study conducted in 2002 estimated the value of coral reefs at $10 billion, with direct economic benefits of $360 million per year (Cesar and van Beukering, 2004). For residents of coral reef areas who depend on income from tourism, reef destruction creates a significant loss of employment in the tourism, marine recreation, and sport fishing industries.