This report examines the extent to which available information supports characterization of community‐ specific ecosystem service values for Massachusetts’ ocean waters, and suggests ways to address key data gaps. The report focuses on three activities of particular interest to the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership and the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA): commercial fishing; vessel navigation; and recreational activities. For each of these activities, the report presents the data available to characterize potential linkages between communities and the location of activity in Massachusetts’ state waters. When practicable, we provide maps and tables to demonstrate these linkages. For commercial fishing and recreational activity, we present and discuss the available data on associated economic values. We also offer recommendations to improve the state’s understanding of important ecosystem services, particularly with respect to recreational activities.
Many papers have dealt with the impact of diving activities, although most have been focussed on divers' physical contact and their equipment. Nevertheless, there are more factors that may be affecting the benthic community, for example, environment, diver's behaviour, dive characteristics, or previous knowledge of the diver about the surrounding wildlife. In the present study, several factors have been studied that may affect the orange coral (Astroides calycularis) populations in the North Alborán Sea (Mediterranean Sea). It has been demonstrated that detached colonies are more common in an impacted station than in a controlled station. However, larger sized detached colonies were found in the controlled station, which is probably due to the species growing without impact factors until they reach a size that they become detached naturally. Dimensions studied such as characteristics of dives, diver experience, environmental perception, or previous knowledge of divers are affecting at the endangered orange coral, showing that the characteristics of dives is a more noteworthy dimension. But this, in synergy with other factors, may be the cause of losing colonies. The results of this study are helpful to the managers of marine environment and MPAs, especially where sensitive species are present during diving activities. Therefore, essential diver education programmes must teach the environmental value and the fragility of different species. Protecting these populations should be a high priority of the environment managers to preserve our natural heritage.
Recreational diving on coral reefs is an activity that has experienced rapidly growing levels of popularity and participation. Despite providing economic activity for many developing coastal communities, the potential role of dive impacts in contributing to coral reef damage is a concern at heavily dived locations. Management measures to address this issue increasingly include the introduction of programmes designed to encourage environmentally responsible practices within the dive industry. We examined diver behaviour at several important coral reef dive locations within the Philippines and assessed how diver characteristics and dive operator compliance with an environmentally responsible diving programme, known as the Green Fins approach, affected reef contacts. The role of dive supervision was assessed by recording dive guide interventions underwater, and how this was affected by dive group size. Of the 100 recreational divers followed, 88 % made contact with the reef at least once per dive, with a mean (±SE) contact rate of 0.12 ± 0.01 per min. We found evidence that the ability of dive guides to intervene and correct diver behaviour in the event of a reef contact decreases with larger diver group sizes. Divers from operators with high levels of compliance with the Green Fins programme exhibited significantly lower reef contact rates than those from dive operators with low levels of compliance. The successful implementation of environmentally responsible diving programmes, which focus on influencing dive industry operations, can contribute to the management of human impacts on coral reefs.
In the last two decades, coral reefs have become popular among recreational divers, especially inside marine protected areas. However, the impact caused by divers on benthic organisms may be contributing to the degradation of coral reefs. We analyzed the behavior of 142 scuba divers in the Abrolhos National Marine Park, Brazil. We tested the effect of diver profile, reef type, use of additional equipment, timing, and group size on diver behavior and their contacts with benthic organisms. Eighty-eight percent of divers contacted benthic organism at least once, with an average of eight touches and one damage per dive. No significant differences in contacts were verified among gender, group size, or experience level. Artificial reef received a higher rate of contact than pinnacle and fringe reefs. Specialist photographers and sidemount users had the highest rates, while non-users of additional equipment and mini camera users had the lowest contact rates. The majority of contacts were incidental and the highest rates occurred in the beginning of a dive. Our findings highlight the need of management actions, such as the provision of pre-dive briefing including ecological aspects of corals and beginning dives over sand bottoms or places with low coral abundance. Gathering data on diver behavior provides managers with information that can be used for tourism management.
A choice experiment is undertaken to elicit preferences of scuba divers in the Marine Protected Area of Medes Islands (Spain). This is the first non-market valuation study of a typical Mediterranean habitat, the Coralligenous, which is characterized by high biodiversity, geomorphologic complexity and iconic species like gorgonians. This habitat is not only very attractive for scuba diving, but is also threatened by climate change and ocean acidification, which is our motivation for undertaking this valuation study. Choice attributes include the number of divers on a diving trip, underwater landscape, presence of jellyfish species, expected state of gorgonians, and price of a dive. Results of multinomial and random parameter logit models indicate a decrease in the attractiveness of Coralligenous areas for scuba diving as a result of both environmental pressures. Estimates of welfare values show that the local extinction of gorgonians had the highest negative effect on utility equivalent to a cost of €60 per dive, followed by abundance of stinging jellyfish with a cost of €26 per dive. Choice probabilities for the selection of different dive experiences indicate the highest rejection rates for the combined sea warming and acidification scenarios.
This study examines the prospects for compromise management to support greater natural resources on recreational beaches by analyzing the spatial dimensions of key natural resource indicators (beach vegetation and wrack) with peak recreational uses in New Jersey, one of the most intensively developed shorelines in North America. The spatial distribution of pedestrian and vehicular recreational uses was measured on 60 transects in heavily-populated beaches during the peak times and days of use during the summer tourist season, and compared to that of vegetation and wrack on 72 transects in nearby protected natural areas. The frequency, density, and % use were calculated for each 10% increment of linear beach surface, and the impacts of protecting different amounts of upper beach areas were calculated in terms of the % vegetation, wrack and recreational use that would be supported in each case. Vegetation was highly concentrated in landward portions of the beach surface, and pedestrian and parked recreational vehicles in the seaward areas, suggesting high compatibility of these natural resources with recreational use. Lower compatibility was found for existing patterns of wrack and vehicle driving, which were more widely distributed across the beach surface. Based on the distributions of these variables, protecting the upper 50% of the beach would support >80% of vegetation, pedestrian and parked vehicular uses, and 42–52% of driving uses and wrack, respectively. Protecting the upper 25% of the beach would support >95% of all recreational uses, 52% of vegetation, and 24% of wrack. Given the current level of impacts to vegetation and wrack on recreational beaches, major gains in these and other natural resources can therefore be made across the shoreline without substantial impacts to existing pedestrian or vehicular recreational uses. Greater ecological benefits and ecosystem services may be obtained by applying these types of compromise management solutions to recreational ocean beaches in the future.
There are approximately 1500 commercial tour boat operators in Australia with a combined fleet of approximately 3800 vessels – the majority offer marine fishing, sailing or diving tours. Most of the fishing tour boat operators employ fewer staff and use smaller vessels than the dive and sail tour boat operators. Proportionately more of the vessels used by sail and dive tour boat operators have basic environmental management measures such as ashtrays and garbage bins to reduce overboard littering, and sewage holding tanks with pump-out systems to reduce the impacts of human waste. In addition, more of the sail and dive tour boat operators claim to be aware of their boat's environmental impacts and also claim to take steps to reduce or remediate them, including the use of environmental management guidelines. These differences in environmental management measures, however, are associated principally with patterns in vessel size, which affects both the practical and regulatory requirements. In addition, more of the dive tour boat operators operate in marine protected areas (MPAs) where regulations are quite often more stringent. Once these factors are allowed for, environmental management of boating related impacts by individual fishing tour boat operators is not significantly worse than by sail or dive tour boat operators. Overall the attempts to reduce environmental impacts are part of the broader thrust to improve sustainability by ecologically modernising the industry. In this regard, there appears to be significant scope for improvement within the Australian tour boat industry in the form of ensuring that their vessels have garbage bins and ashtrays on board, that such items are clearly labelled and that clients are both advised of their location(s) and the need for their use and especially by clearly advising their clients not to throw items overboard (particularly cigarette butts).
This report provides a socioeconomic profile of recreation users in California’s Northern Central Coast Region, which includes the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) and the northern portion of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). The Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is also located within the region but there was not enough information obtained to do a profile for this sanctuary.
The information used here was from a study conducted by Ecotrust for the State of California’s Monitoring Enterprise’s North Central Coast (NCC) MPA Baseline Program. Point97 (Ecotrust’s small business unit) provided all the data and documentation so we could estimate how much of the recreation activity in the NCC region was done in national marine sanctuaries. The study was done covering the activity in the year 2011.
A socioeconomic profile includes demographics (e.g. age, race/ethnicity, gender, education level, household income, household size, and place of residence) of the users; the amount of use by type of recreation activity; and the spending in the local economy while doing the recreation activity, and how that spending generates output/sales, value- added, income and employment in the local economy.
The report compares profiles of the users of the entire NCC region with users of the GFNMS and the users of the northern portion of MBNMS, and between the GFNMS and the northern portion of MBNMS. Statistically significant differences are highlighted.
solating the relative effects of episodic disturbances and chronic stressors on long-term community change is challenging. We assessed the impact of an episodic disturbance associated with human visitation (boat anchoring) relative to other drivers of long-term change on coral reefs. A one-time anchoring event at Crab Cove, British Virgin Islands, in 2004 caused rapid losses of coral and reef structural complexity that were equal to the cumulative decline over 23 years observed at an adjacent site. The abundance of small site-attached reef fishes dropped by approximately one quarter after the anchoring event, but this drop was not immediate and only fully apparent two years after the anchoring event. There was no obvious recovery from the impact, and no evidence that this episodic impact accelerated or retarded subsequent declines from other causes. This apparent lack of synergism between the effect of this episodic human impact and other chronic stressors is consistent with the few other long-term studies of episodic impacts, and suggests that action to mitigate anchor damage should yield predictable benefits.
The marine environment provides a number of services which contribute to human well-being including the provision of food, regulation of climate and the provision of settings for cultural gains. To ensure these services continue to be provided, effective management is required and is being strategically implemented through the development of marine spatial plans. These plans require an understanding of the costs and benefits associated with alternative marine uses and how they contribute to human well-being. One benefit which is often difficult to quantify is the health benefit of engaging with the marine environment. To address this, the research develops an approach which can estimate the contribution aquatic physical activities makes to quality adjusted life years (QALYs) in monetary and non-monetary terms. Using data from the Health Survey for England, the research estimates that physical activities undertaken in aquatic environments at a national level provides a total gain of 24,853 QALYs. A conservative estimate of the monetary value of a QALY gain of this magnitude is £176 million. This approach provides estimates of health benefits which can be used in more comprehensive impact assessments, such as cost-benefit analysis, to compare alternative marine spatial plans. The paper concludes by discussing future steps.