Palmetto Bay, Fla. – Florida Bay has long been a favorite scenic spot for water sports, fishing and recreation, as well as being vital to the ecology of South Florida. Now, thanks to the efforts of G. Andrew Stainback, ecological economist at The Everglades Foundation, the value of Florida Bay to South Florida’s economy has a number.
“It’s important to recognize that there are four key areas in which Florida Bay impacts the economy of South Florida, all in a positive way,” Stainback said. “Those are recreational fishing, commercial fishing, real estate values and the carbon sequestering power of the seagrasses in the Bay. Together, Florida Bay has an impact to the tune of $455.8 million dollars each year, which comes out to $15.1 billion in perpetuity.”
How did Stainback arrive at those numbers? “To analyze the economic significance of these benefits two basic approaches were used,” he said. “First, the monetary value of benefits in terms of recreational fishing, commercial fishing, impact on home values, and the value of climate change mitigation by the seagrasses absorbing carbon from air and water, were analyzed using information from a variety of sources. In addition, the annual economic impact of recreational and commercial fishing was estimated from a survey and input-output analysis using the software IMPLAN.”
The annual economic impact of both recreational and commercial fishing in Florida Bay alone is worth more than $458 million, according to those calculations.
Florida Bay provides substantial benefits in addition to those of commercial and recreational fishing. The Bay adds nearly $1.2 billion in value to single family homes nearby and another $193 million in annual value for carbon sequestration, science, and education benefits, according to Stainback’s research.
Ecologically and economically, Florida Bay provides a lot to South Florida:
• crucial habitat for numerous threatened and endangered species, including smalltooth sawfish and American crocodile
• recreationally-important fisheries for species including snook, tarpon, and redfish
• commercially-important fisheries, including for stone crab and spiny lobster
• breeding and feeding grounds for species of wading and migratory birds, including reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, and white pelicans.
Due in part to that incredible array of habitat offerings, Florida Bay also provides numerous opportunities for recreation, including fishing, kayaking, canoeing and or birdwatching. The Bay is home to vast areas of seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, which absorb carbon and help protect the fragile coastline from storm surge.
“It’s difficult to quantify the value of a natural resource like Florida Bay,” Stainback said. “I hope that this work will resonate with policy makers and inspire them to make every effort to protect this unique and fragile, but incredibly important resource.”
For the full study, please contact Foundation Communications at communications (at) evergladesfoundation dot org.
To view the economic impact fact sheet, please click here.