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Perceptions of Diving Impacts and Implications for Reef Conservation

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SCUBA diving can contribute to both coral reef degradation and conservation. Divers' perceptions of these possible impacts were studied in Phuket, Thailand. The most endorsed impact of diving was a positive one: the educational impact on the divers. Impact perceptions changed after the dive. Perceptions of anchor damage and garbage disposal as negative impacts fell markedly. Following the trip liveaboard divers were more likely than day divers to see the impact of diving as positive. Almost 30% of divers witnessed perceived negative impacts on the reef by their dive group. Divers who saw damage were more likely to feel that diving has a negative impact on the reef than divers who did not see impacts. They were also more likely to take part in a reef conservation project. The results reinforce the potential for diving to be a positive force for reef conservation but indicate the need for greater investment in diver education.

Keywords: SCUBA diving; Thailand; coral reef conservation; ecotourism; education

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08920750601169584

Affiliations: Marine Protected Areas Research Group Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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