Reefs are an important spawning, nursery, breeding and feeding area for organisms and are home to between 9% and 12% of the worlds total fisheries (Smith, 1978). In some parts of the world, the reef fishery makes up 25% of the total reef catch (Cesar, 1996).
Reefs provide a variety of seafood products such as fish, mussels and seaweed that can be harvested by local fishermen. Many fish species drift into neighbouring ecosystems such as sea grass beds and mangroves where they act as a food source for larger fish in commercial fisheries or can be harvested by fishermen (Moberg, 1999).
This shows that coral reefs provide a great value to the human population by generating jobs and creating a profit due to the fisheries they are home to.
Reefs also have benefits in the pharmaceutical industry. It has been found that anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and AIDS inhibiting substances appear in reef species such as sponges, molluscs and corals (Sorokin, 1993).