Encounter norms of snorkelers and scuba divers at Molokini, Hawai'i : methodological and managerial applications Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/1r66j395x

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  • Over the past few decades, tourism and recreation activities have increased in tropical marine settings, and studies have examined social and ecological impacts of these activities. Some studies have examined social impacts such as encounters, crowding, and encounter norms or standards that individuals use to evaluate encounters with others as acceptable or unacceptable. Most research has examined a single dimension of these norms, the number of people encountered, and how this influences normative evaluations. Less is known about normative evaluations of use-related encounters with objects other than people. This thesis uses data from surveys of visitors at Molokini Shoal Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD) in Hawai'i to examine: (a) the influence of boat size on encounter norms; (b) reported encounters, crowding, normative evaluations, and support of use-related management strategies at this site; and (c) whether visitors who encounter more boats than their norm feel more crowded and are more supportive of restrictive management strategies. Data were obtained from onsite pre-trip and post-trip surveys of 709 passengers on commercial snorkel and dive boats. Norms were measured with acceptance of 12 photographs depicting combinations of four levels of boat use (6, 12, 26, 42 boats) and three proportions of boat size (all small [≤ 15 passengers, 30 feet], 50% small and 50% large [≥ 100 passengers, 50 feet], all large boats). Number of boats was a much more important dimension than boat size and the size of boat that respondents were traveling on did not influence norms. On average, visitors would accept seeing no more than approximately 15 boats at one time at Molokini (17 small boats, 12 large boats) and this number was observed on at least 20% of trips to the site. Although most visitors expected to escape crowds at Molokini, 67% felt crowded and upward of 79% supported direct actions to restrict use at the site (e.g., limit the number of boats). Visitors who encountered more boats than their normative tolerance felt more crowded and were more supportive of these management strategies. These findings suggest that Molokini is operating over its capacity and management attention is necessary to improve experiences and resources.
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