Ecological Studies Volume 206, 2009, pp 409-422
Date: 09 May 2009

The Aesthetic Value of Littoral Hard Substrata and Consideration of Ethical Frameworks for Their Investigation and Conservation

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Abstract

Rocky coastlines provide impressive vistas. The recreational and aesthetic value of rocky intertidal areas encompasses a large proportion of their ecosystem services, along with provisioning and regulatory services such as nutrient regulation and supply of food. Ethical considerations are confusing but critical to any discussions on the use of rocky shores. We must ensure an appropriate mix between exploitation (e.g. harvesting of resources such as fish) and conservation. Ethical frameworks must be properly developed for the use of organisms and habitats in ecological studies and, particularly, in experiments. The problems highlighted in this chapter have serious implications for the continued aesthetic value of coastlines which are enjoyed by many different user groups. The ethical considerations discussed are vital in any activity to protect the marine environment so that it can be sustainably used by all. Specific guides and regulations have been put in place for areas which are considered to be of high value in terms of their biodiversity, the services they provide, their aesthetic appeal or their geological history. More attention to the ethical responsibilities involved in any management of people’s use and enjoyment of coastal habitats and species will undoubtedly aid the future sustainability of these assets.