Article

Diving tourism in Mexico -Economic and conservation importance

Authors:
  • Centro para la Biodivesidad Marina y la Conservación A.C.
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Abstract

Global coastal environments are highly vulnerable to degradation due to anthropogenic pressures as they host close to half of the world's population in addition to having rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Worldwide degradation of coastal environments causes marine biodiversity to become an increasingly scarce resource. Consequently, locations with rich marine biodiversity have become attractive destinations for non-extractive activities such as diving tourism. For instance, since the invention of SCUBA in 1942, diving tourism has evolved from a niche activity to a thriving industry that lures practitioners with the promise of experiencing pristine wildlife encounters. Despite the number and popularity of diving destinations in Mexico, no study has previously estimated the economic importance of this industry for the Mexican case. This study calculates for the first time the gross and net revenues generated by the Mexican diving industry. We first created the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of diving sites in Mexico. Secondly, via a face-to-face survey, we gathered data on revenues and operation costs from diving operators. The resulting dataset includes 864 diving sites that together generate gross revenues ranging from (2019) USD 455 million and USD 725 million annually which are comparable to those generated by the artisanal and industrial Mexican fisheries together. Mexico simultaneously has high untapped ecotourism potential and the need for a sustainable strategy that delivers growth in both the economy and environmental conservation. Therefore, Mexico is in a position to become a beacon for community-led management through ecotourism, stimulating a sustainable use of marine resources.

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... Recreational diving is an important and profitable branch of the marine tourism industry [1]. Diving can impact the areas surrounding dive sites, supporting coastal communities through income sources, job creation and overall economic growth in an area [2]. Diving also supports conservation directly and indirectly by creating awareness, knowledge of the sites and their ecological importance, and positive attitudes among divers towards the conservation of dive sites [3]. ...
Conference Paper
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... This suggestion is consistent with recent literature highlighting the potential of the diving industry in supporting community-led management of fisheries through ecotourism, stimulating a sustainable use of marine resources (e.g. Arcos-Aguilar et al., 2021;Nisa et al., 2022). In such cases, different payment vehicles might be tested. ...
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We integrated the emerging information of the ecological, economic and social importance of the coasts at a global scale. We defined coastal regions to range from the continental shelf (to a depth of 200 m), the intertidal areas and adjacent land within 100 km of the coastline. We used the 1 km resolution Global Land Cover Characteristics Database and calculated the area covered by 11 different land cover classes (natural and human-altered ecosystems) within the 100 km limit [Burke, L., Kura, Y., Kasem, K., Revenga, C., Spalding, M., McAllister, D., 2001. Coastal Ecosystems. Washington DC World Resource Institute. 93 pp.]. Cover of aquatic ecosystems was calculated based on several world databases. Our results show that the coasts of the world comprise a wide variety of geomorphological characteristics of which mountainous coasts with a narrow shelf are the most abundant. Sandy shores are found on 16% of the coastal countries. The coasts are located in every weather regime and the number of biomes is equally variable. Within the 100 km limit, 72% still is covered by natural ecosystems and 28% have been altered by human activities (urban and croplands). Open shrubs and evergreen broadleaf forests are the most abundant terrestrial ecosystems. Canada has the largest area of natural and relatively well preserved terrestrial ecosystems. Indonesia and China have the largest percentages of cropland area near the shore, and Japan and the US have the largest coastal urban areas. Indonesia, Australia, Brazil, Bahamas and New Caledonia have the largest areas of aquatic ecosystems. The calculated economic value of goods and services provided by coastal ecosystems showed that altogether, coastal ecosystems contribute 77% of global ecosystem-services value calculated by Costanza et al. [Costanza, R., d'Arge, R., de Groot, R., Farber, S., Grasso, M., Hannon, B., Naeem, S., Limburg, K., Paruelo, J., O’Neill, R.V., Raskin, R., Sutton, P., ven den Belt, M., 1997. The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387, 253–260]. According to 2003 data, 2.385 million people live within the coastal limit, which represents 41% of world global population. More than 50% of the coastal countries have from 80 to 100% of their total population within 100 km of the coastline. Twenty-one of the 33 world's megacities are found on the coast. Multivariate analyses grouped coastal countries according to their ecological, economic and social characteristics. Three gradients explained 55% of the variance: degree of conservation, ecosystem service product and demographic trends. Given the current scenario and the climate change prediction, the coastal environments will be confronting serious environmental issues that should be worked in advance, in order to achieve a sustainable development of the most valued locations of the world. Several recommendations are made.
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Scuba diving tourism has the potential to be a sustainable source of income for developing countries. Around the world, tourists pay significant amounts of money to see coral reefs or iconic, large animals such as sharks and manta rays. Scuba diving tourism is broadening and becoming increasingly popular, a novel type of scuba diving which little is known about, is muck diving. Muck diving focuses on finding rare, cryptic species that are seldom seen on coral reefs. This study investigates the value of muck diving, its participant and employee demographics and potential threats to the industry. Results indicate that muck dive tourism is worth more than USD$ 150 million annually in Indonesia and the Philippines combined. It employs over 2200 people and attracts more than 100,000 divers per year. Divers participating in muck dive tourism are experienced, well-educated, have high incomes, and are willing to pay for the protection of species crucial to the industry. Overcrowding of dive sites, pollution and conflicts with fishermen are reported as potential threats to the industry, but limited knowledge on these impacts warrants further research. This study shows that muck dive tourism is a sustainable form of nature based tourism in developing countries, particularly in areas where little or no potential for traditional coral reef scuba diving exists.
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Continuing degradation of coral reef ecosystems has generated substantial interest in how management can support reef resilience. Fishing is the primary source of diminished reef function globally, leading to widespread calls for additional marine reserves to recover fish biomass and restore key ecosystem functions. Yet there are no established baselines for determining when these conservation objectives have been met or whether alternative management strategies provide similar ecosystem benefits. Here we establish empirical conservation benchmarks and fish biomass recovery timelines against which coral reefs can be assessed and managed by studying the recovery potential of more than 800 coral reefs along an exploitation gradient. We show that resident reef fish biomass in the absence of fishing (B0) averages ∼1,000 kg ha(-1), and that the vast majority (83%) of fished reefs are missing more than half their expected biomass, with severe consequences for key ecosystem functions such as predation. Given protection from fishing, reef fish biomass has the potential to recover within 35 years on average and less than 60 years when heavily depleted. Notably, alternative fisheries restrictions are largely (64%) successful at maintaining biomass above 50% of B0, sustaining key functions such as herbivory. Our results demonstrate that crucial ecosystem functions can be maintained through a range of fisheries restrictions, allowing coral reef managers to develop recovery plans that meet conservation and livelihood objectives in areas where marine reserves are not socially or politically feasible solutions.
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Facing the worldwide coral degradation, active restorations are moving toward improving techniques to maintain coral coverage. Transplant methods have been used to restore coral reef areas that were completely degraded; however restoration is not commonly employed at coral reefs with evident loss that may jeopardize the maintenance of the community. In this study the re-attachment concept using the natural fragmentation of branched-corals was tested as an accelerator process to natural recovery based on asexual reproduction. Survivorship, growth and attachment rates of three Pocillopora species on both natural and artificial substrates were evaluated at four sites of Islas Marietas. Over one year of monitoring during 2012–2013, resulted in a high survivorship of 87% on artificial underwater structures and 67% on natural substrate, the height and radial growth, on both substrata increase 2-fold from the initial size; although both substrata were viable, coral fragments attach faster on natural (4 months) than artificial structures (6 months). The results demonstrate that re-attachment using natural substrata is a potential and no invasive instrument for treating coral reefs not completely degraded in restoration programs.
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Although coastal tourism is often looked to as a way of generating foreign revenue, it can also engender a range of social and environmental impacts. From an historical perspective, this article examines the growth of Cancún in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo since the late 1960s. The article documents a range of socioeconomic and environmental impacts associated with the rise of coastal tourism, and suggests that centralized planning and the provision of physical and financial infrastructure does not prevent those impacts. The principal causes of these impacts are also described, including changes in land-usage, population, tourism markets, foreign market penetration and control, an emphasis on short-term economic gain, weak regulatory enforcement, and an overall lack of integration of coastal zone management.
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Spatialized catch and effort data, representing the world's marine fisheries in the 1950s and the 2000s are presented in form of cartograms, i.e., global maps in which the surface areas of continents are made proportional to the magnitude of the annual catches and fishing effort by their fleets. This is complemented by an analysis of the flows of seafood between the continents in whose waters the fish were captured, in the 1950s and the 2000s, and the continents where fleets originated. Such broad-brush analyses of temporal changes and trade patterns are helpful to understand major trends of fisheries, which, are increasingly dominated by scarcity of fish, and competition, notably off the coast of West Africa, and in newly accessed polar waters.
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The recreational use of marine protected areas (MPAs) is a potential source of funding for MPAs in developing countries, for instance given the willingness of international divers to pay considerably higher diving fees than they currently pay. We conducted a global survey of MPAs containing coral reefs to investigate what factors are important in determining the size of fees charged to recreational SCUBA divers. The survey suggests that a negative perception about diving fees by managers is a more important predictor of fee size than the quality of diving, which can help explain the prevalently low size of diving fees. Decentralized fee systems and higher diving fees can help capture some of the surplus willingness to pay for diving in MPAs, but an excessive reliance on tourism for funding MPA management could expose coral reefs to damages.
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Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is becoming increasingly popular as a way to manage ecosystems using economic incentives. The environmental economics approach to PES tries to force ecosystem services into the market model, with an emphasis on efficiency. The ecological economics approach, in contrast, seeks to adapt economic institutions to the physical characteristics of ecosystem services prioritizing ecological sustainability and just distribution and requiring a transdisciplinary approach. This paper summarizes the results of a participatory “atelier” workshop held in Costa Rica. We developed a set of principles (the Heredia Declaration) for PES systems and report on evolving initiatives in several countries. We discuss how the distinction between ecosystem goods (which are stock-flow resources) and ecosystem services (which are fund-service resources) and the physical characteristics of the fund-services affect the appropriate institutional form for PES. We conclude that PES systems represent an important way to effectively manage fund-service resources as public goods, and that this represents a significant departure from conventional market institutions.
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We trace the evolution, governance, and effects of three marine reserve (no-take zones) initiatives in the Gulf of California, Mexico: Loreto Bay National Park, Puerto Peñasco, and San Pedro Mártir Island Biosphere Reserve. Preliminary monitoring results, although highly variable, are encouraging for conservation and fisheries management. However, open access situations and differing conceptions among local stakeholders and government concerning access rights to fishing grounds, coupled with limited support for surveillance and lags between local and government institutional arrangements and interests, are the main constraints for the success of these and future reserves in the region. We discuss the main social–ecological feedbacks at play and the implications of our findings within a regional context.
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Contents Section I: An Introduction to Diving Tourism 1. Introduction Brian Garrod, Stefan Gossling Section II: The diving tourism experience 2. Market segments and tourist typologies for diving tourism Brian Garrod 3. Perceptions of and interactions with marine environments; diving attractions Carl Cater 4. Economic value of diving tourism, local income and distribution Alan White and Samonte Tan Section III: Environmental, economic and social impacts of diving tourism 5. The state of coral reefs and consequences of global environmental change for diving tourism in tropical environments Stefan Gossling, Olof Linden 6. Vulnerability of marine mammals to diving tourism activities Susanna Curtin, Brian Garrod 7. Environmental management and education: the case of PADI Anna Lindgren, Jenny Reithe, Sophia Trossvik, Stefan Gossling Section IV Management of diving tourism 8. The dive industry and social responsibility – time to catch up Claudia Townsend 9. Management issues and techniques – artificial reefs Peter van Treeck 10. Attitudes to and preferences of divers toward regulation Nola Barker, Callum Roberts 11. Compliance with regulations by divers and tour operators Carol Scarpaci 12. Managing diver impact and increasing support for conservation through education Claudia Townsend 13. Tourist diving – injury, risk and safety Chris Coxon, Kay Dimmock, and Jeff Wilks.
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The planet's most fascinating and yet tantalisingly under-researched component is now a rapidly growing tourism frontier. The sea attracts millions of tourists annually with its diverse array of exclusive activities, but its sheer size brings with it considerable problems for management. Within the context of other economic activities that may compromise the success, if not the very existence of marine ecotourism, this text examines the wide range of marine ecotourism resources, not only natural, but also cultural and man-made. Covering economic, marketing planning and regulation issues, this book also considers the vital role of marine ecotourism in raising awareness of the significance of the seas and oceans to sustainable coastal livelihoods. At a time of great concern over the effects of climate change and high profile issues such as depletion of fish stocks and oil spillages, the insights this book provides are essential reading. Yes Yes
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Humans transformed Western Atlantic coastal marine ecosystems before modern ecological investigations began. Paleoecological, archeological, and historical reconstructions demonstrate incredible losses of large vertebrates and oysters from the entire Atlantic coast. Untold millions of large fishes, sharks, sea turtles, and manatees were removed from the Caribbean in the 17th to 19th centuries. Recent collapses of reef corals and seagrasses are due ultimately to losses of these large consumers as much as to more recent changes in climate, eutrophication, or outbreaks of disease. Overfishing in the 19th century reduced vast beds of oysters in Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries to a few percent of pristine abundances and promoted eutrophication. Mechanized harvesting of bottom fishes like cod set off a series of trophic cascades that eliminated kelp forests and then brought them back again as fishers fished their way down food webs to small invertebrates. Lastly, but most pervasively, mechanized harvesting of the entire continental shelf decimated large, long-lived fishes and destroyed three-dimensional habitats built up by sessile corals, bryozoans, and sponges. The universal pattern of losses demonstrates that no coastal ecosystem is pristine and few wild fisheries are sustainable along the entire Western Atlantic coast. Reconstructions of ecosystems lost only a century or two ago demonstrate attainable goals of establishing large and effective marine reserves if society is willing to pay the costs. Historical reconstructions provide a new scientific framework for manipulative experiments at the ecosystem scale to explore the feasibility and benefits of protection of our living coastal resources.
Multiple stressors in marine systems
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D.L. Breitburg, G.F. Reidel, Multiple stressors in marine systems, Mar. Conserv. Biol. Sci. Maint. Sea's Biodivers. (2013) 167-182. https://books.google.com/books ?hl=en&lr=&id=J-2JcCC_Yn0C&pgis=1.
Exploring variability in environmental impact risk from human activities across aquatic ecosystems
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F. Borgwardt, L. Robinson, D. Trauner, H. Teixeira, A.J.A. Nogueira, A.I. Lillebø, G. Piet, M. Kuemmerlen, T. O'Higgins, H. McDonald, J. Arevalo-Torres, A. L. Barbosa, A. Iglesias-Campos, T. Hein, F. Culhane, Exploring variability in environmental impact risk from human activities across aquatic ecosystems, Sci. Total Environ. 652 (2019) 1396-1408, https://doi.org/10.1016/j. scitotenv.2018.10.339.
WIT transactions on state of the art in science and engineering! ecological dimensions for sustainable socio economic development! beyond duplicity and ignorance in global fisheries
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D. Pauly, WIT transactions on state of the art in science and engineering! ecological dimensions for sustainable socio economic development! beyond duplicity and ignorance in global fisheries, WIT Trans. State Art. Sci. Eng. (2013) 519-535.
Market segments and tourist typologies for diving tourism
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