Livelihoods are a crucial factor in sustainable integrated coastal management and can bring big payoffs for people and coral reef resources but their role in encouraging collective engagement in management is not well understood. Dive tourism is often cited for its capacity to provide livelihoods to reduce reliance on coral reef resources, however, there is little evidence of its ability to achieve this goal. We use key stakeholder interviews with artisanal fishers, their community, local government and politicians and the sustainable livelihoods framework to study Oslob Whale Sharks, the most financially successful and controversial community based dive tourism site in the world. Oslob Whale Sharks has generated income from ticket sales of approximately US$18.4 m over five years. We found that Oslob Whale Sharks has created alternate livelihoods for 177 fishers, and diversified livelihoods throughout the community, reducing fishing effort and changing livelihood strategies away from reliance on coral reef resources. Livelihoods from Oslob Whale Sharks increase food security for fishers and their families and improve the wellbeing of their community. Livelihoods have galvanised fishers and their community to change behaviour and collectively engage in management. Our findings indicate connection between livelihoods and the provision of finance to protect whale sharks and manage five marine reserves, indicating that fishers and local government are protecting the whale sharks and coral ref resources their livelihoods depend on.
Ziegler et al. (2018) assessed tourists’ perceptions of the ethics of feeding an endangered species for tourism purposes. The ethical decisions made, and justifications provided, were assessed using utilitarian and animal welfare ethical philosophies. We concluded that despite the substantial social and economic benefits of this activity, it remains unclear whether these benefits outweigh the potential costs to the whale sharks, the community, and the greater environment. There is no evidence that provisioning is not detrimental to the sharks. Consequently, we invoke the precautionary principle whereby the onus to prove no detrimental impact should be on the proponents of provisioning whale sharks. Due to the lack of published, peer-reviewed “robust and unequivocal” scientific evidence of the impacts of this activity alluded to by Meekan and Lowe, our conclusions stand until thorough cost-benefit analyses are completed.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) effectively improve the biomass and diversity in heavily exploited marine systems, but often fail to reach their full potential because they require more space, time, and consistency of regulation. Recently, shark-based tourism, which utilises some of the remaining shark strongholds as tourism hotspots, has brought about increased awareness to exploited reef systems. In Fiji, specifically, shark diving companies include local community members in their operations to promote better understanding of their reefs. We seek to investigate whether seemingly denser shark populations during feeding times influence community composition and structure. Visual census data were collected from 50-m belt transects at four different reefs in Fiji: two MPAs with shark-based ecotourism with food provisioning, one MPA without shark-based ecotourism, and one unprotected area without shark-based tourism. Paradoxically, indices of evenness and diversity were highest in the non-protected site. However, there was significantly higher fish abundance and species diversity within reserves than outside of reserves. Within reserves, sites with shark feeding had lower fish abundance and higher richness, diversity, and evenness. Mean trophic level was highest at sites with shark feeding. Use of chum increased average fish abundance and diversity within shark-dive sites. These results indicate that there are evident differences between MPAs that do and do not offer trophic supplementation for shark-based ecotourism. Thus, tourism may be facilitating a shift of ecosystem composition in such areas. Furthermore, the results suggest that feeding methods may augment the impacts of shark-based tourism on the reef at large.
Protected areas are a key component of any global conservation strategy. Tourism provides a crucial and unique way of fostering visitors’ connection with protected area values, making it a potentially positive force for conservation. Protected area tourism’s economic benefits—which depend on beautiful natural areas, healthy wildlife and nature, and authentic cultures—can also be a powerful argument for conservation. Tourism in protected areas is a major part of the global tourism industry—an industry whose scale and impacts are enormous. Such a high volume of visitors implies certain needs for fundamental infrastructure and requirements for employment and human services, all of which have ramifications for the economy, society, culture and the environment. These Guidelines provide guidance on key issues to help managers achieve sustainable tourism in protected areas.
Beaches, an important component of coastal tourism resources, are gradually eroding as a result of environmental pollution, ecological damage, etc., which is ignored by tourists as more recreational coastal activities become available. In this context, the present study attempts to investigate the willingness to pay (WTP) of tourists and evaluates the non-use value of beach tourism resources to protect beaches from further deterioration. Towards this aim, a scientific survey is implemented on the beaches of Qingdao coastal scenic area (China) with application of the contingent valuation method (CVM). In addition, this study uses a logistic regression model to analyze the factors affecting tourists' WTP. The results indicate that 80.8% of tourists would be willing to pay to preserve beach tourism resources, and the mean WTP is $10.0 (¥66.7) per year when zero values are considered. Factors such as tourists' gender and traveling frequency to the beaches significantly affect their WTP to preserve beach tourism resources, with females exhibiting a higher probability of paying than males, and those with a higher traveling frequency also present a higher probability of paying. The non-use value of beach tourism resources is estimated at $0.8 billion (¥5.4 billion), based on the total number of tourists in Qingdao in 2016 as the survey sample. Therefore, scientific evaluation of the non-use value of beach tourism resources is beneficial to the sustainable development and preservation of beaches.
Our Galapagos fishers agent-based model (GF-ABM) considers strategies of household livelihood alternatives with the central proposition that fishers are being “pushed” and “pulled” into the tourism industry, but not all fishers are able to obtain alternate employment nor do all want to transition to part- or full-time employment in non-fishing activities. The processes embedded in our GF-ABM examine fishers as a social-ecological system, where livelihood transitions are modeled, and the multidimensional drivers of change are examined by integrating processes and relationships among agents, a dynamic environment, and the influence of personal and professional characteristics as well as exogenous dynamics into their employment patterns. The GF-ABM contains a demographic element that models basic demographic changes at the household level (household agents). The model also contains an employment management component in which fisher agents select jobs among three employment sectors – fisheries, tourism, and government. The tourism and government sectors each have three tiers of jobs that require increasing agent skills. Fishers make their employment decisions based on their preference to remain in fishing, the availability of jobs in the three employment sectors, and their personal and professional qualifications that facilitate their movement among the employment sectors. Households contain members that are non-fisher agents, and fishers belong to households. Income and expenses are calculated for both fishers and household agents. In this chapter, we describe the key elements of the GF-ABM and the fundamental processes that are examined within a population-environment context.
Coral reefs are important to the dive experience, suggesting the expected increase in coral bleaching events has the potential to alter global flows of dive tourists. There are a growing number of studies that suggest taking people's estimation of their options and ability to react to a threat into account provides a clearer picture of the decision to respond to a threat. This study applied Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) to help understand the motivational factors associated with intended adaptation to coral bleaching. Multiple regression analysis was used to analyze the effects of threat and coping appraisal variables. This study provided the first empirical evidence of scuba divers' response to marginal reef conditions, indicating that the majority of respondents would significantly alter their behavior in some way. PMT was able to explain between 12.8% and 47.7% of the variance in adaptation intentions, with response efficacy and self-efficacy consistently emerging as the strongest significant predictors. Consideration of multiple adaptation responses demonstrates the variability of model performance and highlights the need to consider the context of adaptation when interpreting results. Implications for future research and the dive tourism industry are discussed.
Distribution of non-natural food (provisioning) to attract fish, though popular in coral reef tourism, has often been discouraged due to its assumed adverse effects on fish health and behavior. However, the effects of provisioning on community structure, anti-predator, and foraging behavior of teleost fishes, as well as their potential to indirectly affect benthic organisms, are not yet clear. Here, we compared fish composition, wariness, foraging behavior of herbivorous fishes, and the benthic cover between provisioned and control sites. We found significant differences in fish abundance, species number, and composition at some locations, but not all. Although most provisioned herbivorous fish did not reduce their biting rates of benthic algae, provisioned sites still had higher coverage of green macroalgae. Our results dispute widely held presumptions on the effects of tourism-based provisioning on the ecology and behavior of teleost fishes, as well as the benthic cover. These findings suggest that while regulation of provisioning is necessary to manage and mitigate any deleterious outcomes, when moderated and monitored, it could still provide an educationally beneficial tool for coral reef ecotourism.
For protected areas to achieve their conservation goals, visitors should be aware of reserve boundaries and follow the protective measures within them. However, lack of knowledge about the specifics of reserve geography and rules can lead to actions that adversely affect marine life (unsanctioned fishing and collecting) or disturb sensitive species within these areas, even when general support for protected areas is high. We assessed public awareness of State Marine Reserves locations and policies on the central California coast. Using surveys in the form of semi-structured interviews and written questionnaires, we asked beach visitors whether they had prior knowledge about State Marine Reserves. We provided half of participants with new knowledge about State Marine Reserves in the form of a verbal, short pre-survey speech. We asked participants to indicate if they were currently standing inside of a State Marine Reserve and assessed their self-reported likelihoods of performing several actions related to environmental etiquette such as following reserve rules. Finally, we tested how provisional new knowledge influences perceptions surrounding the importance of protecting marine habitats and human impacts on them. Overall, 60% of participants had heard of marine reserves, though this varied by participant region of residence. 33% of participants with prior knowledge and 13% of participants with no prior knowledge identified site protection status correctly. Over half of participants self-reported behaviors consistent with reserve rules and environmental etiquette. Survey participants who received new knowledge did not differ from the control group in their ability to correctly identify reserve location or in their perceptions of human impacts. Our results suggest that the information in our short verbal speech was not sufficient for changing perceptions, though over 90% of visitors stated marine protection to was already personally important or very important to them. Beach visitors intend to treat reserves well if they know they are visiting a reserve. However, because less than one third of visitors recognize reserve locations, a disconnect exists between understanding acceptable behavior for protected sites and knowing where to apply this behavior. Finally, we discuss the educational strategies of docent presence and place-based learning opportunities to improve awareness of marine reserves and their locations for local and non-local visitors.
Vessel traffic has been increasing rapidly in the Arctic, and within the Canadian Arctic, tourist vessels are the fastest growing maritime sector. Vessel traffic can cause a variety of impacts on whales, including ship strikes and acoustic disturbance. Here, the overlap between tourist vessels (e.g., pleasure craft/yachts and passenger vessels/cruise ships) and whale concentration areas is assessed within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the western Canadian Arctic. Different management measures which could be used to reduce impacts on whales are also assessed. Passenger vessels have had a relatively constant overlap with whale concentration areas through time, whereas pleasure craft have had a recent and rapid increase. Passenger vessels may have a greater impact on whales, compared to pleasure craft, since they are larger and travel faster. Excluding vessels from the two marine protected areas in the region would have no impact on whales within concentration areas, since vessels would likely just be displaced to adjacent areas with similar whale concentrations. Restricting vessels to the Canadian government's proposed low-impact corridor may reduce impact slightly, but creating a corridor completely outside of the known whale area could more significantly reduce the potential impact of vessels on whales in those areas. Restricting vessel speed within whale areas would also reduce the impact of passenger vessels, but would not likely reduce the impact of pleasure craft. Overall, a combination of management measures may be the best way to reduce impacts on whales in concentration areas.