Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 167–180 | Cite as

Incorporating Recreational Users into Marine Protected Area Planning: A Study of Recreational Boating in British Columbia, Canada

  • Darcy L. Gray
  • Rosaline Canessa
  • Rick Rollins
  • C. Peter Keller
  • Philip Dearden


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.


Marine protected areas Recreational boating Marine zoning Recreation opportunity spectrum Recreation conflict 



Funding for this study was provided by Canadian Network of Excellence (NCE): Geomatics for Informed Decision Making (GEOIDE) and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We thank Brian Emmett and Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., for providing a research vessel and equipment; Jackie Ziegler and Andrew Leyne, who assisted in the collection of data; Ole Heggen for Fig. 1; and, the boaters who kindly agreed to participate in the study. We also thank the three anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful critique of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darcy L. Gray
    • 1
  • Rosaline Canessa
    • 1
  • Rick Rollins
    • 2
  • C. Peter Keller
    • 1
  • Philip Dearden
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Recreation and TourismVancouver Island UniversityNanaimoCanada

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