[Coral-List] Sustainable Tourism!?

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Sat Dec 17 13:25:09 EST 2011

Ideas floating about regarding environmental fees to be assessed 
on the recreational diving and tourism industries sound reasonable,
but even if they were to overcome obvious obstacles and become 
universally implemented, could the revenues raised actually provide 
the means necessary to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems 
worldwide? Put another way, can money solve the problem or would this 
approach instead raise false hopes that we are taking the appropriate 
steps needed to ward off an impending environmental catastrophe? 

It seems to me that the abundance of evidence suggests that it is 
human behaviors that must change. Reef restoration efforts can not 
possibly keep pace with what appears to be an ecological disaster 
that will inevitably occur if we continue to maintain the status quo
and resist taking steps to mitigate our impact on the natural world 
by among other things, reducing carbon emissions. 

The fact is that many destinations already charge environmental fees. 
Cozumel, Mexico and Bonaire impose a marine park fee on all divers and 
it has no doubt helped stem the tide. Interestingly enough, these  
locations contain perhaps the healthiest reefs in the region, yet there 
is persistent speculation as to why relatively robust conditions can 
seemingly be maintained on these reefs while other locations nearby 
appear to be rapidly deteriorating. Dive operators in Cozumel and Bonaire
make consistent and conscientious efforts to protect their reefs and this
has assuredly paid off, but the question remains as to whether or not 
these efforts are enough to offset the dynamics of a precarious future.


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