Characterization of Coastal and Marine Recreational Activity in the U.S. Northeast
To support ocean planning efforts in the Northeast, Point97, the Surfrider Foundation and SeaPlan conducted a study for the Northeast Regional Planning Body to characterize coastal and marine recreational activities. In order to fill a regional need to better understand the spatial patterns of important recreational activities in New England, the study focused on collecting information on commercial whale watching, SCUBA diving, sailing races and regattas, sportfish tournaments, competitive board and paddle events, as well as individual uses, such as beach going, wildlife viewing, surfing, and non-motorized boating (e.g. kayaking). The study team collaborated with industry representatives from the various recreational sectors, including whale watch operators, underwater explorers, surf and dive shop owners, and sailing event organizers, to help guide the development, execution, and review of the study components. Using a combination of online survey tools and in-person participatory mapping techniques, the study used complementary methodologies to gather data by targeting both the expertise of recreational industry leaders as well as individuals who recreate along the coast. Study limitations were specific to each unique data collection approach and reflect the challenges of reaching a diverse set of stakeholders. The resulting datasets fill a gap in the understanding of recreational use in the Northeast through depictions of whale watching areas and transit routes, SCUBA diving areas, landside locations of marine events and spatial data points that characterize non-consumptive activities from individual users. Products from this work are available on the Northeast Regional Planning Body’s website (neoceanplanning.org) and the Northeast Ocean Data Portal (northeastoceandata.org).