Costa Rica News – The effects of climate change could have far-reaching impacts on Costa Rica’s valuable marine tourism industry.
Whilst the Earth has only warmed around one degree Fahrenheit during the last 100 years, this small temperature increase is affecting ocean ecosystems and could impact upon the global marine tourism industry.
Coral reef tourism has a global value of US $36 billion per year, according to a scientific study mapping the global value and distribution of coral reef tourism. This study, published in the Marine Policy journal in 2017, concluded that 30% of the world’s reefs are valuable to tourism.
In the last ten years, the Costa Rica tourism industry generated US $28 billion and a total of 23.9 million visitors arrived in the country. Costa Rica liveaboard diving is a big draw for tourists wanting to explore the world-famous shark hotspot of Cocos Island and the country is known as a premier dive destination, with visitors arriving from around the globe each year.
Whilst coral bleaching events and ocean acidification are well-documented effects of climate change, there are other stressors on coral reefs that could undermine the marine tourism industry in the future.
Sea level rises, leading to coastal erosion, plus stronger and more frequent storms typical of the current climate, smother and destroy coral reef structures. Heavy rainfall events cause land-based pollutants and nutrients to wash into the ocean, resulting in algal blooms and a reduction in available light at reefs.
Changing ocean currents also affect reefs, by altering the connectivity of geographically distant reefs and water temperature profiles. These changes can lead to a lack of food sources and interrupt reef species ability to breed.
If left unchecked, these complex effects could reduce the value of marine tourism significantly as the quality of dive sites and idyllic beach destinations deteriorate.
Thankfully a new global partnership to conserve the ocean, announced at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in early 2018, should help address this. This new partnership, Friends of Ocean Action, will consist of leaders in science, technology, business, and non-governmental groups aiming to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14; to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources.
Individuals can do their part to minimise the effects of climate change by reducing their carbon footprint. Measures such as driving less, reducing waste, and purchasing energy-efficient appliances or lightbulbs are easy ways to help. Coral reefs can be protected with simple measures such as using fewer garden chemicals that may run-off into the ocean, choosing sustainable seafood, and practising good reef etiquette.
This article was written by divers and writers for Liveaboard.com.