Estuaries generate economic activity and support jobs, more than we probably think. Coasts and Estuaries account for a large part of our economy through providing habitat for our fisheries resources. How many jobs do they support and what kind of jobs are they? How do they compare to other economic activities?
A report issued by Restore America’s Estuaries in Sept. 2011, “Jobs and Dollars”, details several important conclusions about employment and estuaries :
Coastal counties make up only 13% of the U.S. land area, they generate half the nation’s GDP, and provide 40% of all American employment. More than three-quarters of all U.S. trade-some $850 billion total-passes through U.S. ports annually. Further, over 75% of all commercial fishing, 80-90% of recreational fishing, and 85% of waterfowl and migratory birds depend on estuaries. Combined, the hunting and fishing industry alone generates $80 billion a year.
Coastal habitat restoration–including wetland reconstruction and improvement; rebuilding depleted oyster beds; removal of obsolete dams, culverts, and other obstacles to fish passage; tree planting and floodplain restoration; and invasive species removal–typically create between 20 and 32 jobs for every $1 million invested. In comparison, road infrastructure projects on average create seven jobs per million, oil and gas provide five jobs per $1 million, and green building retrofits produce 17 jobs per $1 million invested.
The Restore America’s Estuaries webpage on Economics of Estuaries provides more information on measurable benefits (economic values) as well as other values estuaries provide through our quality of life.