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Assessing patterns of recreational use in large marine parks: A case study from Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia

Smallwood, C.B., Beckley, L.E., Moore, S.A. and Kobryn, H.T.ORCID: 0000-0003-1004-7593 (2011) Assessing patterns of recreational use in large marine parks: A case study from Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia. Ocean & Coastal Management, 54 (4). pp. 330-341.

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Being able to accurately locate and describe recreational use within marine parks is essential for their sustainable management. Given the difficulty in accessing many marine parks, as well as their large size, the surveys to obtain these much-needed data are often logistically challenging and expensive. Aerial surveys are one potential method for obtaining accurate, timely data and this paper details the design for one such survey conducted in the Ningaloo Marine Park, off the northwestern coast of Australia. Ningaloo has been nominated as a world heritage site and the fringing coral reef that forms the centrepiece of the Marine Park extends for 300 km along the coastline. The survey involved 34 temporally stratified flights conducted over a 12-month period. All vessels and people were geo-referenced and where possible, their activities were recorded, providing data that clearly illustrates dramatic expansions and contractions in recreational use. Not only does the spatial extent of use expand in the peak visitor season (April-October), the density of use correspondingly increases. High densities of recreational activity in the Park's waters were accompanied by increased numbers of vehicles, camps, boat trailers and boats on the adjacent shoreline. Aerial surveys proved to be an effective method for rapidly obtaining recreational data with high spatial accuracy. Such a method has broad applicability to marine parks as it provides comprehensive data to benchmark existing recreational use, as well as monitor future changes in activity patterns, which are essential for the informed management that must underpin sustainability efforts.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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