THE reef covers a 7km2 area, according to Australia Caribbean Coral Reef Collaboration (ACCRC), and is home to a multitude of biodiverse species, both flora and fauna, including patch reefs, seagrass beds, parrot fish and sea turtles.
Healthy coral reefs provide ecosystem services which are invaluable to the Caribbean’s economy. These services include, but are not limited to, protection of up to 50 per cent of Tobago’s shorelines from erosive wave energy, a safe environment for fish nurseries, and a source of food and livelihood. However, many of these are glaringly overlooked, resulting in the mistreatment of reefs in such a way that the long-term economic benefits they offer are diminished.
The ACCRC reported that in 2006, around 40 per cent of visitors engaged in reef-based tourism which, through direct visitor spending and indirect supporting goods, generated a total of $101-130 million for the island, about 15 per cent of Tobago’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism is the mainstay of Tobago’s economy.