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Sustainability of Scuba Diving Tourism on Coral Reefs of Saba

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We examine the effects of recreational scuba diving in the Saba Marine Park in the Netherlands Antilles over a nine-year period. Levels of diving have remained low whereas dive fees have provided a major source of income to this park. We studied 5 dive sites where the average number of dives per site per year ranged from 445 to 2,163. At each site we recorded benthic parameters and levels of damage within at least 25 randomly placed quadrats in areas designated to be High use (0–20 m from mooring) or Low use (40–60 m from moorings), at yearly or biennial intervals. Within the same dive site, there was significantly more broken coral and fragments of live coral in High use areas than Low use. However, across sites, damage was not significantly related to diving intensity and nor did it accumulate over time. The Saba Marine Park shows that it is possible to fund protection at sustainable levels of use.

Keywords: Caribbean; hurricane; management; marine park; marine reserve

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Environment Department, University of York Heslington, York, UK 2: Saba Marine Park, The Bottom Saba, Netherlands Antilles 3: Marine Nature Office, Argyll & Bute Council, Lorn House Oban, Argyll, Scotland 4: J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, Florida, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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