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“Please let me visit”: Management options for marine ecosystems in a Mediterranean Marine Protected Area

Journal for Nature Conservation - Volume 67

Abstract:

Designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a means to support conservation of marine ecosystems is expected to depend on local communities and stakeholder’ participation and support. This paper presents the preferences of residents of Malta for measures intended to protect Posidonia oceanica seagrasses and coralligenous formations from threats from the anchoring and mooring of vessels in an offshore MPA area. The results indicate that only the most modest of restrictions increase the economic welfare of residents as participants are, overall, against further restrictions to enter the MPA. Survey participants wish to see an increase in provisioning ecosystem services such as fish caught and increases in carbon sequestration and are willing to pay to secure such benefits. Respondents also appear to have individualistic and use-driven values as a result of interacting with the MPA while past experiences play an important role in preferences, with frequent visitors strongly objecting to further restrictions to entry. The good current condition of the seagrass beds might explain the rejection of stringent restrictions but fails to account for threats from climate change and projected increase in tourism vessels’ visits. Such findings make co-operation and appropriate communication of threats and policies for management of marine resources through MPAs to the public more imperative.

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Contact person:

Emmanouil Tyllianakis: e.tyllianakisatleeds.ac.uk (e[dot]tyllianakis[at]leeds[dot]ac[dot]uk)

 

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