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Environmental Management

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 335–347 | Cite as

The Tourism Carrying Capacity of Underwater Trails in Isabel Island National Park, Mexico

  • Eduardo Ríos-JaraEmail author
  • Cristian Moisés Galván-Villa
  • Fabián Alejandro Rodríguez-Zaragoza
  • Ernesto López-Uriarte
  • Vicente Teófilo Muñoz-Fernández
Article

Abstract

The popularity of ecotourism in the marine protected areas of Mexico has increased over the last 10 years; in particular there is a large development of a SCUBA diving industry in the Mexican Pacific including Isabel Island. Given the risks associated with human activity in the marine environments around this island, we propose two ecotourism management strategies: (1) the creation and use of underwater trails, and (2) the estimation of the specific tourism carrying capacity (TCC) for each trail. Six underwater trails were selected in sites that presented elements of biological, geological, and scenic interest, using information obtained during field observations. The methodology used to estimate the TCC was based upon the physical and biological conditions of each site, the infrastructure and equipment available, and the characteristics of the service providers and the administrators of the park. Correction factors of the TCC included elements of the quality of the visit and the threat and vulnerability of the marine environment of each trail (e.g., divers’ expertise, size and distance between groups of divers, accessibility, wind, coral coverage). The TCC values ranged between 1,252 and 1,642 dives/year/trail, with a total of 8,597 dives/year for all six trails. Although these numbers are higher than the actual number of recreational visitors to the island (~1,000 dives per year), there is a need for adequate preventive management if the diving sites are to maintain their esthetic appeal and biological characteristics. Such management might be initially directed toward using only the sites and the TCC proposed here.

Keywords

Conservation Diving Management Biodiversity Island Pacific 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank M. Pérez-Peña, A. Martínez-Zataraín, A. Nuño-Hermosillo, and A. Santos-Crespo for their substantial help during this project. We are grateful to National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) staff, particularly C. García-Chavelas, J.A. Castrejón-Pineda, L.E. Cano-Sánchez, G. Pérez-Lozano and C. Robles-Castillo for their help during field work at Isabel Island. The National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of the Biodiversity of Mexico (CONABIO) and PROMEP-SEP partially funded this study. All research activities were also supported by the Academic Group UDG-CA-046 of the Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico. Many thanks to two anonymous reviewers for critically reviewing the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo Ríos-Jara
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cristian Moisés Galván-Villa
    • 1
  • Fabián Alejandro Rodríguez-Zaragoza
    • 1
  • Ernesto López-Uriarte
    • 1
  • Vicente Teófilo Muñoz-Fernández
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecosistemas Marinos y Acuicultura, Departamento de EcologíaCUCBA, Universidad de GuadalajaraZapopanMexico

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