The ocean crisis is urgent and central to human wellbeing and life on Earth; past and current activities are damaging the planet’s main life support system for future generations. We are witnessing an increase in ocean heat, disturbance, acidification, bio‐invasions and nutrients, and reducing oxygen levels. Several of these act like ratchets: once detrimental or negative changes have occurred, they may lock in place and may not be reversible, especially at gross ecological and ocean process scales.
In this article, we examine the problem of coral reef destruction and discuss various stakeholders who suffer losses from the destruction. We then postulate a stakeholder versus threats matrix and outline an algorithm where public authorities can streamline policy based on expected losses. We also formulate, using local data, divergence between public good and individual benefits and examine the agent behaviour under monitoring. Our examples, using previous estimations on net benefits, give guidelines on how to form public policy and management strategies.