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Influence of Zoning and Habitats on the Spatial Distribution of Recreational Activities in a Multiple-Use Marine Park

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The spatial distribution of recreation is influenced by many factors, and also differs between activity types. Understanding these relationships is essential for planning and sustainable management of resource use, especially in coastal marine parks, which are often exposed to considerable anthropogenic pressure. However, such information is rarely available, especially at fine spatial scales. Ningaloo Marine Park, in north-western Australia, has a diversity of zoning and habitats, making it an ideal location to investigate the effect of these two attributes on recreational use. Spatially explicit data on a suite of recreational activities were obtained using 192 land-based roving surveys conducted over a 12-month period. Fishing was distributed widely throughout the Marine Park and was negatively associated with sanctuary (no-take) zones, whilst surfing and snorkeling had relatively high participation but were undertaken at localized sites, characterized by a rocky shoreline and sanctuary zones, respectively. Such data provides a greater understanding of patterns of recreational use with respect to zoning and habitat which can inform management and planning processes. This is especially pertinent for sanctuary zones, which, although they exclude recreational fishing and its associated effects, are popular with people participating in non-extractive activities (i.e., snorkeling) and may therefore still be vulnerable to environmental impacts.
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Keywords: Geographic Information System; Ningaloo Reef; coral reef; recreational fishing; snorkelling; surfing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Environmental Science,Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia

Publication date: 01 July 2012

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