Ships, planes, and other large structures are finding their way to the bottom of the sea along coasts in North America, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. More and more, coastal communities and even not-for-profit organizations (e.g. the San Diego Oceans Foundation and Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia) are actively promoting and financing "ships to reefs" projects as a means of providing new destinations for recreational SCUBA diving tourists. Creating a "ships to reef" site can be costly. The cost to prepare a ship for reefing can range from $46,000 to $2 million, depending on the size of the vessel (Hess et al., 2001). The benefits, however, can be equally large or larger. In order to get a better idea of the potential economic value of ships to reefs, I review the literature on the value of recreational diving to artificial reefs in the United States. Using data from the literature, I estimate that potential net present value of expenditures associated with the recently placed Yukon ship to reef site in Southern California could be on the order of $46 million and the potential net present non-market value of the sunken ship could be as high as $13 million. These estimates are within an order of magnitude of estimates based on a preliminary survey of divers at the Yukon.
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