Impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on coral reef fisheries: An integrated ecological–economic model
Coral reefs are highly productive shallow marine habitats at risk of degradation due to CO2-mediated global ocean changes, including ocean acidification and rising sea temperature. Consequences of coral reef habitat loss are expected to include reduced reef fisheries production. To our knowledge, the welfare impact of reduced reef fish supply in commercial markets has not yet been studied. We develop a global model of annual demand for reef fish in regions with substantial coral reef area and use it to project potential consumer surplus losses given coral cover projections from a coupled climate, ocean, and coral biology simulation (CO2-COST). Under an illustrative high emission scenario (IPCC RCP 8.5), 92% of coral cover is lost by 2100. Policies reaching lower radiative forcing targets (e.g., IPCC RCP 6.0) may partially avoid habitat loss, thereby preserving an estimated $14 to $20 billion in consumer surplus through 2100 (2014$ USD, 3% discount). Avoided damages vary annually, are sensitive to biological assumptions, and appear highest when coral ecosystems have moderate adaptive capacity. These welfare loss estimates are the first to monetize ocean acidification impacts to commercial finfisheries and complement the existing estimates of economic impacts to shellfish and to coral reefs generally.