STUDY: Economic valuation of the ecosystem services of the Sargasso Sea | WWF

STUDY: Economic valuation of the ecosystem services of the Sargasso Sea

Posted on 01 September 2015    
Cover for Economic valuation of the ecosystem services of the Sargasso Sea
© Duke University
The Sargasso Sea ecosystem generates a variety of goods and services that benefit people. These goods and services, often referred to as ecosystem services, provide some outputs that are directly commercially important (e.g., commercial fish stocks, wildlife viewing that supports tourism) and some that are both commercially important and that provide important recreational opportunities (e.g., recreational fishing).

The Sargasso Sea ecosystem also provides ecological functions that are essential in the support of human life (e.g., oxygen production and carbon capture and storage). High-seas ecosystems, like that of the Sargasso Sea, abound in genetic diversity and biological compounds that may yield new chemical and medicinal products.

Some ecosystem services in the Sargasso Sea may be harvested directly (e.g., fish or seaweed). In other cases, ecosystem functions provided by the Sargasso Sea may act as only an intermediate element in the production of ecosystem services, for instance when Sargassum supports part of the life cycle of organisms that ultimately benefit people far from the region (e.g., eels spawned in the Sargasso Sea are harvested in North America and Europe).

The Sargasso Sea ecosystem is part of larger oceanic processes whose ecological and environmental outcomes may affect human well-being globally (e.g., carbon sequestration).

This report provides a variety of measures of the Sargasso Sea’s economic value and impact, especially net and gross revenues associated with ecosystem services supported by the sea. Measures of net revenues capture the net benefit of a resource to society. Gross revenues capture important measures of economic activity and impact. Gross revenues support local taxes, income, and jobs.
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