The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a critically endangered species encountered by recreational divers in marine protected areas (MPAs) circumtropically. Few studies, however, have examined the impacts of recreational diving on hawksbill behaviours. In 2014, we collected turtle sightings surveys and dive logs from 14 dive operations, and conducted in-water observations of 61 juvenile hawksbill turtles in Roatán, Honduras, to determine if differences in dive site use and diver behaviours affected sea turtle behaviours in the Roatán Marine Park. Sightings distributions did not vary with diving pressure during an 82-day study period. We found the amount of time turtles spent eating, investigating and breathing decreased when approached by divers. Our results suggest diver interactions may negatively impact sea turtle behaviours, however it is unknown if recreational diving has a cumulative effect on turtles over time. We recommend that MPA managers should implement monitoring programmes that assess the impacts of tourism on natural resources. We have established monitoring of hawksbills as representatives of the marine habitat in an MPA, which has the potential to be heavily impacted by dive tourism, and provide recommendations for continued monitoring of the resource.
The expansion of offshore wind farms (OWFs) is likely to increase conflict with other marine users as different sectors compete for space. There may also be positive interactions, as the artificial reef effects from energy infrastructure have the potential to sustain and enhance fishing opportunities. Recreational sea angling is an important sector within the UK but the experiences and opinions of UK sea anglers with respect to OWFs have not been documented. To address this, an online survey was undertaken with recreational anglers around the UK (n=199). Respondents represented a range of socio-demographic and angling characteristics, although male, more frequent and older fishers as well as club members were over-represented compared to a 2012 national survey. One quarter of the respondents had fished around the perimeter of or within an OWF, most on multiple occasions, and 73% of those who had not expressed a willingness to do so in future. Anglers reported both positive and negative effects on catch success when fishing near or within OWFs compared to their experiences of the same site prior to OWF development. Outcomes for individual species were also mixed. Anglers recognised the potential artificial reef effects of OWFs and their role as a “safe haven”, particularly due to the exclusion of commercial fishers. Negative perceptions included restricted access, harm to marine wildlife, and visual impact. There is little evidence that OWFs will have a significant economic impact on recreational fishing, as most anglers are unlikely to change their behaviour in response to future developments.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for collecting information on marine recreational angling. It does so principally through the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), a survey program that consists of an in-person survey at fishing access sites and a mail survey, in addition to other complementary or alternative surveys. Data collected from anglers through MRIP supply fisheries managers with essential information for assessing fish stocks. In 2006, the National Research Council provided an evaluation of MRIP’s predecessor, the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS). That review, Review of Recreational Fisheries Survey Methods, presented conclusions and recommendations in six categories: sampling issues; statistical estimation issues; human dimensions; program management and support; communication and outreach; and general recommendations.
After spending nearly a decade addressing the recommendations, NMFS requested another evaluation of its modified survey program (MRIP). This report, the result of that evaluation, serves as a 10-year progress report. It recognizes the progress that NMFS has made, including major improvements in the statistical soundness of its survey designs, and also highlights some remaining challenges and provides recommendations for addressing them.
Artificial reefs are increasingly used worldwide as a method for managing recreational diving since they have the potential to satisfy both conservation goals and economic interests. In order to help maximize their utility, further information is needed to drive the design of stimulating resources for scuba divers. We used a questionnaire survey to explore divers’ perceptions of artificial reefs in Barbados. In addition, we examined reef resource substitution behaviour among scuba divers. Divers expressed a clear preference for large shipwrecks or sunken vessels that provided a themed diving experience. Motives for diving on artificial reefs were varied, but were dominated by the chance of viewing concentrated marine life, increased photographic opportunities, and the guarantee of a ‘good dive’. Satisfaction with artificial reef diving was high amongst novices and declined with increasing experience. Experienced divers had an overwhelming preference for natural reefs. As a management strategy, our results emphasize the capacity of well designed artificial reefs to contribute towards the management of coral reef diving sites and highlight a number of important areas for future research. Suggested work should validate the present findings in different marine tourism settings and ascertain support of artificial reefs in relationship to level of diver specialization.
Conserved lands provide multiple ecosystem services, including opportunities for nature-based recreation. Managing this service requires understanding the landscape attributes underpinning its provision, and how changes in land management affect its contribution to human wellbeing over time. However, evidence from both spatially explicit and temporally dynamic analyses is scarce, often due to data limitations. In this study, we investigated nature-based recreation within conserved lands in Vermont, USA. We used geotagged photographs uploaded to the photo-sharing website Flickr to quantify visits by in-state and out-of-state visitors, and we multiplied visits by mean trip expenditures to show that conserved lands contributed US $1.8 billion (US $0.18–20.2 at 95% confidence) to Vermont’s tourism industry between 2007 and 2014. We found eight landscape attributes explained the pattern of visits to conserved lands; visits were higher in larger conserved lands, with less forest cover, greater trail density and more opportunities for snow sports. Some of these attributes differed from those found in other locations, but all aligned with our understanding of recreation in Vermont. We also found that using temporally static models to inform conservation decisions may have perverse outcomes for nature-based recreation. For example, static models suggest conserved land with less forest cover receive more visits, but temporally dynamic models suggest clearing forests decreases, rather than increases, visits to these sites. Our results illustrate the importance of understanding both the spatial and temporal dynamics of ecosystem services for conservation decision-making.
For the past decade, state and regional ocean planning authorities across the United States have been designing and conducting integrated and comprehensive marine planning processes in accordance with national, regional, and state mandates or guidance. Understanding and characterizing a variety of human uses of the ocean through combined data collection and stakeholder engagement initiatives is a core component of these processes.
Marine recreation has been a primary focus for these efforts, largely because there is a general lack of data characterizing this sector, despite its significant social and economic importance. Planning and management authorities as well as marine industry stakeholders have recognized this data gap. To fill this gap, planning authorities have been working closely with marine recreational industry leaders and experts on a number of studies which have resulted in datasets that are relevant to planning and management agencies and are also considered trustworthy by the industries. While these studies have employed a variety of approaches, techniques, and tools to characterize a diverse set of marine industries, a number of common themes and observations have emerged. This paper highlights these overarching best practices and insights distilled from SeaPlan’s experience with collaborative marine human use characterization studies in the Northeastern U.S.
These common methodological best practices and strategies are framed within a collaborative data collection and engagement model developed and adapted through designing and conducting successive marine recreational use studies between 2009-2016. Employing this collaborative model was instrumental in generating trusted data credible to all parties and creating an avenue for direct industry participation in the ocean planning process. We also offer two key strategies which can be used within the model’s framework. The first frames data as a shared asset, where information is intentionally developed to meet planning, management, and industry goals simultaneously. The second strategy encourages engagement approaches which are tailored toward unique industry characteristics, such as geographical distribution, seasonality, and existing industry organization.
This paper presents four case studies which demonstrate how the collaborative model’s best practices and associated strategies have been put into practice in the Northeastern U.S. over the past seven years. These studies include the 2010 Massachusetts Recreational Boater Survey, the 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey, the 2015 Northeast Coastal and Marine Recreational Use Characterization Survey, and the 2013-2016 Pilot Charter and Party Vessel Fishing Mapping Project. Reflecting on the outcomes of these studies, we present a summary of lessons learned from this body of work. The intent in sharing this experience is, specifically, to inform others’ efforts as existing marine plans are implemented and as other regions and states embark on similar marine industry characterizations, and, more broadly, to contribute to the growing body of work in marine social sciences.
In coastal areas, demographic increase is likely to result in greater numbers of recreational users, with potential consequences on marine biodiversity. These effects may also occur within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which are popular with recreational users. Our analysis builds on data collected over a ten-year period during three year-round surveys to appraise changes in recreational boating activities in coral ecosystems. Results show that the number of boaters has greatly increased, particularly so within MPAs during weekends and the warm season, when peaks in boat numbers have become more frequent. We also observed that the number of anchored boats has increased over the period. These changes may be resulting in biophysical impacts that could be detrimental to conservation objectives in MPAs. This steady increase over time may cause changes in the spatial and temporal distribution of users and in their practices, thus highlighting the importance of monitoring recreational activities.
A partnership among industry, government, and nongovernmental organizations conducted a survey of marine recreational boaters from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York during the 2012 boating season. The 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey (2012 NE Survey) characterizes the recre- ational boating activity of 373,766 marine boaters from Maine to New York. The project produced detailed maps of boating routes across the region and estimated that marine recreational boating contributed $3.5 billion to the Northeast economy in 2012. Survey collaborators provided input and assisted with every phase of the study, including survey scoping and development, study design, implementation, and interpretation of the survey results. Results include regional and state maps of popular recreational boating locations; busy boating routes; and activities, such as recreational fishing and wildlife viewing. Eco- nomic analyses revealed that 907,000 boating trips on the ocean gen- erated approximately $3.5 billion and the equivalent of nearly 27,000 year-round jobs in the Northeast in 2012. The results can be used by ocean managers, the boating industry and others in many ways, such as identifying waters important to recreational boaters; inform- ing business planning and economic development; and planning for compatible and sustainable ocean uses.
The Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (Plan) completed in 2009 recognized recreational boating as an activity with “significant actual and prospective conflicts among multiple waterway uses in Massachusetts” and included the economic value of recreational boating as a key socio-economic indicator that will be used to inform coastal management. At the time of Plan completion, statistically robust recreational boating data were identified as an important need for comprehensive ocean planning.
To fill this data gap, the 2010 Massachusetts Recreational Boater Survey gathered information on boating activity in Massachusetts’ coastal and ocean waters directly from recreational boaters. Researchers sent 10,000 surveys to owners of Massachusetts registered and documented vessels in the spring of 2010 asking for participation in the six month study. Over 22% responded and provided detailed information through monthly surveys between May and October about their boating trips including expenditures, recreational activities, and routes. Boaters plotted their spatial data (routes and activity areas) using an innovative online open source mapping tool. Using statistical methods and economic models, the demographic and economic information from the sample of boat- ers was generalized to the population of Massachusetts boaters.
Results revealed the economic contribution of this activity to the Massachusetts economy - an estimated $806 million in 2010. Information gathered through the survey was also compiled into comprehensive maps depicting recreational boating patterns and density, and was used to better understand details of the recreational boating community, such as the most common boat size, the typical age of Bay State boaters, etc.
The research findings will be incorporated into the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan and can be used by resource managers, the boating industry and others in many ways, such as ensuring boating routes and destinations receive appropriate attention in ocean planning efforts.