Hawaii coral reefs now protected under $2 million insurance policy

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Grace Smith | December 23, 2022

The Nature Conservancy took out a $2 million insurance policy at the end of November for Hawaii’s coral reefs. The policy provides funding for the repair and restoration of coral reefs after hurricane or storm damage. 

This insurance policy is the first policy for reefs in the United States. The first reef insurance policy in the world was in 2019 after hurricane damage in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Since then, different partners have been working with TNC to build a larger and more impactful insurance program.

“In Hawai‘i, we are rooted in the environment; the health of our coastlines and communities is directly tied to the health of the coral reefs surrounding our islands,” Ulalia Woodside Lee, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy, Hawai‘i and Palmyra said. “By investing in nature, our insurance and finance partners are demonstrating its value as a critical natural, cultural and economic resource.”

Coral reefs are an important natural asset for Hawaii and its people and culture. Reefs provide coastal flood protection for people and property worth more than $836 million and $1.2 billion through tourism. But coral reefs are under serious threat because of climate change, which is heightening and increasing natural disasters like tropical storms and hurricanes.

“Managing natural resources is a costly endeavor, and more investment is always needed,” Brian Nielson, Administrator, Division of Aquatic Resources, State of Hawaiʻi Division of Land and Natural Resources said. “It is a step forward in coral reef conservation and will provide vital funding to repair reefs when it is urgently needed.”