Protecting Fish Assemblages on Sunken Vessels to Enhance Diving Ecotourism and Local Natural Resources

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Abstract

ARENA, P., 2011. Protecting Fish Assemblages on Sunken Vessels to Enhance Diving Ecotourism and Local Natural Resources. In: Micallef, A. (ed.), MCRR3-2010 Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 61, pp. 375-377. Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, ISSN 0749-0208.

Sixty percent of the world's human population lives within 60 km of the coastline. The ever increasing numbers of people near the coast leads to higher demand for recreational opportunities in these coastal areas. One very popular activity is SCUBA diving and ecotourism. Divers have consistently shown they enjoy diving on artificial reefs with a preference for sunken vessels. These artificial reef types have been shown to harbor a wide variety and large numbers of fishes. However, these fishes are susceptible to heavy fishing pressure and a conflict exists between fishers who would like to harvest its resources and ecotourists who prefer to observe and photograph these fishes. Fishing on these artificial reefs can rapidly reduce target fish populations and negatively impact local fisheries. However, with protection, some of these sunken vessels can provide a safe haven from fishers and would have a better likelyhood of enhancing local fisheries, while still providing an excellent non-consumptive ecotour destination.

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