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The economic impact of plastic pollution in Antigua and Barbuda

This economic brief shows the estimated impact of marine plastic pollution on fisheries and tourism in Antigua and Barbuda. Marine plastic pollution can generate significant economic costs in the form of gross domestic product (GDP) reductions, estimated at up to US$7 billion (globally) for 2018 alone (WWF, 2021).

This is driven by the loss in revenue from tourism, fishing, aquaculture, transport, and other ocean-based activities (McIlgorm et al., 2020). The costs associated with marine litter are divided between direct and indirect costs (Newman et al., 2015). Direct costs include the expenses for repair and replacement.

For instance, fisheries revenues can be impacted due to damaged gear (Macfadyen, 2009) and expenses to the government to clean beaches where recreational activities are conducted (Mouat, et al., 2010). Additionally, the shipping industry can suffer losses due to marine debris entangling with propellers, potentially obstructing the engine (IMO, 2018). The indirect costs are related with impacts to biodiversity and habitats, including costs resulting from decreased ecosystem service provision (Rodríguez et al., 2020). For instance, the fisheries sector’s revenue is further reduced due to the reduction in catches in the presence of marine plastics and lost or abandoned gear (Richardson et al., 2021). Tourism industry’s revenue could be impacted due to reduction in tourists’ visits and spending in the presence of marine debris (McIlgorm et al., 2020).

This is one of three briefs produced for the Caribbean as part of the Plastic Waste Free Islands project. In 2019, with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), IUCN launched the Plastic Waste Free Islands (PWFI) project, as part of its global Close the Plastic Tap Programme. PWFI focused on three islands in the Caribbean and three islands in the Pacific. Implemented in Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa in Oceania and Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia and Grenada in the Caribbean, the project promoted island circular economy and demonstrated effective, quantifiable solutions to address plastic leakage from Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Summaries of this report are available in English, French and Spanish here. A graphical summary of economic impacts for the Caribbean is available here in English.