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Regional barrier reef system gets insurance

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Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2021. 3:18 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Parts of the Belize Barrier Reef, the primary component of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System running from southern Mexico to Honduras, will soon be insured by the nonprofit MAR Fund with grant money from the InsuResilience Solutions Fund, backed by the German government, according to the Guam Daily Post.

Insurance is the newest means of preserving these valuable assets as climate change threatens coral reefs around the world, according to conservation experts. A decade after experts first discussed the idea of reef insurance, Mexico’s Quintana Roo state government in 2019 took out what was likely the world’s first policy, covering areas near the tourist resorts of Cancun. The policies will pay out after hurricanes to fund repairs and debris cleaning.

Claudia Ruiz, Reef Rescue Initiative coordinator at MAR Fund stated that such insurance helping the biodiversity of the reef and also the coastal communities that depend on the reef.

“How important is this from 0 to 10? I’d say 10,” said, which works on the conservation and sustainable use of the Mesoamerican reef.

Coral reefs are essential for protecting aquatic life and shielding coastlines from storms, but they are under threat from pollution and warmer oceans due to climate change. That stress has led to their bleaching – in which ailing coral expel the colorful algae living on them – which increases the likelihood the coral will die.

Though healthy reefs can recover from hurricanes, climate change has made that harder, scientists say. Quick payouts to help remove debris after storms and stick broken corals back together can help, reef experts say.

Around the world, insurers are increasingly offering policies to cover climate change-related threats, from flooding to wildfires.

The policies pay out if a pre-determined trigger is passed, such as the size of a hurricane or flood, rather than according to the actual damage, allowing for quicker delivery of needed recovery cash.

But some environmentalists have doubts about the new approach, saying other integral parts of coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrasses. Those involved in the new insurance push said it was a first step and work was underway on similar insurance for mangroves, which absorb climate-changing emissions, serve as fish nurseries and protect coasts from storm surges.

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