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Towards a Utilitarian Ethic for Marine Wildlife Tourism

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Ethical issues in wildlife tourism have been the subject of increasing academic interest in recent years. This article begins by examining the issues that arise from extending moral consideration to animals through an exploration of the boundaries that can be drawn in order for a being to be considered part of the moral community. Issues of animal suffering during wildlife tours are then explored using catch and release sport fishing and aquaria as examples. Utilitarianism (with its emphasis on consequentialism, welfare, and ensuring the greatest good for interested parties) is then introduced and its potential to act as an ethical framework for marine wildlife tourism is considered and evaluated. The article concludes that although utilitarianism has certain weaknesses as an ethical philosophy, its consequentialist focus and its requirement that the interests of both human and animals involved in wildlife tourism interactions are given equal consideration, can help ensure that more balanced decisions are made regarding the distribution of benefits and costs that result from marine wildlife tours.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Tourism in Marine Environments is an interdisciplinary journal dealing with a variety of management issues in marine settings. It is a scientific journal that draws upon the expertise of academics and practitioners from various disciplines related to the marine environment, including tourism, marine science, geography, social sciences, psychology, environmental studies, economics, marketing, and many more.
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