Incorporating Recreational Users into Marine Protected Area Planning: A Study of Recreational Boating in British Columbia, Canada
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- Gray, D.L., Canessa, R., Rollins, R. et al. Environmental Management (2010) 46: 167. doi:10.1007/s00267-010-9479-1
Marine protected areas (MPAs) and zoning plans require an understanding of stakeholders if they are to be successful at achieving social and biological objectives. This study examines recreational boaters in a proposed MPA in British Columbia, Canada, using the recreation opportunity spectrum (ROS) and models of recreation conflict as a basis for investigation. Boaters (n = 543) visiting the region during the summer completed face-to-face surveys. Results show variability in boater setting preferences, supporting an ROS-based approach to MPA planning and zoning. While boaters as a whole placed the greatest importance on natural settings, sailboat operators expressed stronger preferences for natural and quiet settings relative to motorboats, and motorboat operators expressed stronger preferences for settings characterized by built facilities and extractive activities relative to sailboats. Several marine activities emerged as sources of perceived conflict for boaters, including personal watercraft, commercial whale watching vessels, and shellfish aquaculture. Our analysis indicates that while some of these may be addressed through zoning, others are better addressed through education and communication. Recommendations for both MPA management and future research are made.