The economic, social and conservation benefits of recreation-orientated artificial reefs

Kirkbride-Smith, Anne Elizabeth

Biological sciences
December 2014

Thesis or dissertation


Rights
© 2014 Anne Elizabeth Kirkbride-Smith. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Abstract

Coral reefs are highly diverse and economically important. Despite this, a confluence of anthropogenic threats endangers reefs globally. The diving tourism industry is an important beneficiary of coral reefs, especially reefs located within the tropical latitudes. With a recent increase in popularity of diving tourism concomitant with a global expansion of marine coastal tourism, reef managers and policy makers are presented with fresh challenges. This study explores the potential economic, social and conservation impacts of artificial reefs as recreational scuba diving resources and investigates their use as a reef management strategy within a marine protected area. A majority of the study was conducted on the Caribbean island of Barbados, West Indies. In the first part of the thesis, I estimate the economic benefits of recreation-orientated artificial reefs through a synthesis of data, and find that artificial reefs have a substantial recreation value. The need for more detailed, high-quality artificial reef valuation studies, that use a standard reporting protocol, is recommended. The second part of the thesis is based on field work using questionnaires to solicit information from users of artificial reefs. Interviews reveal novice divers have a preference for artificial reefs for local diving in contrast to experienced divers who have an overriding preference to dive on natural reefs. Moreover, an inverse relationship exists between diver experience and satisfaction of artificial reef diving, with novices being very satisfied with the experience. Using 24 variables to measure diver enjoyment between artificial and natural reef sites, I establish participants experience significantly higher levels of enjoyment at artificial reefs. Further, it was shown that enjoyment of artificial reefs is attributed to the challenge of the dive, new experiences and photographic opportunities. Irrespective of reef type, I find novices are significantly more influenced by personal incentive attributes of the dive (e.g. updating diving skills), while biophysical aspects of the reef and photography contribute significantly more to experienced divers enjoyment. A contingent valuation study of visitors to pay a daily marine park entrance fee reveals a higher mean willingness to pay (US$18.33) for natural reef conservation than for protecting and maintaining artificial reefs (US$17.58). Variables that exhibit significant explanatory power of willingness to pay include the number of species viewed, age of respondent and level of concern for coral reefs.

Publisher
School of Biological, Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, The University of Hull
Supervisor
Johnson, Magnus
Qualification level
Doctoral
Qualification name
PhD
Language
English
Extent
3 MB
Identifier
hull:11669
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