[Coral-List] Paper out - 50 days free download

martina m.milanese at studioassociatogaia.com
Sun Sep 18 14:10:04 EDT 2016

Good evening everybody,

thanks to all the people reasoning and discussing about impacts from 
diving, snorkelling and tourism. I can just agree with all your 
comments. For sure tourism is one of the drivers of unwanted change - 
but not the only one and not necessarily the worse. It is also important 
to remember its positive sides. This is the fil rouge of the Green 
Bubbles project (just to make it clear nobody wants to demonise diving, 
tourism or snorkelling).

As for impacts from snorkelling I couldn't agree more: management 
(including smart one :-)) is the key. Much like for everything. I also 
agree that when reefs are at depths of 2m or more, direct impact from 
snorkelling can be minimal. On the other hand, impacts can be big on 
shallower and easy-to-reach reefs - typical situation for "house reefs".

"House reefs" facing resorts can be usually visited by autonomous 
snorkellers, that is: under no supervision (resorts also organise guided 
snorkelling trips but in my experience this does not automatically 
guarantee control). These reefs are very shallow, and include reef 
crests and/or coral heads that almost reach the surface. I think of some 
places in the Red Sea of which I have direct experience, like the 
sourthern coast of Marsa Alam or the northern stretch of Sharm el 
Sheikh. In such places it is not unlikely to see people hanging or 
standing on corals, because they are tired or just as they want to stay 
still and watch better.

In these cases, management is difficult because the destinations are 
developed for mass tourism. This entails big numbers and marketing 
campaign focusing on "you can go and play with the fish at any time 
right from the beach". These resorts tend to cater to generalist 
tourists, and generalist tourist tend to have a poorer understanding of 
the marine environment than specialist recreationists. Under these 
circumstances it is difficult to enforce strict rules regulating access 
to the reefs because people are really many, they came to access a reef 
in a free way and they may not understand why rules need be applied.

Measures that can be taken, though, are soft ones and - if well applied 
- can turn a potential harm into an opportunity for awareness rising. 
These include educational events and briefings, provision of guides 
several times a day (ideally complemented by interpretation, so people 
prefer to join that tour rather than venture alone), implementation of 
rules like the "mandatory floater" (it can be a floating vest or a 
neoprene suit, often the latter is better accepted), implementation and 
enforcement of no-stand/no-touch policies (with the aid of a spotter, 
which can be the same person in charge for water safety), free training 
in snorkelling.

A good combination of the above usually works, but of course it needs 
dedicated staff and resources. So it takes just one "rogue" operator in 
the midst of many well-minded ones to waste the efforts of everybody. 
Unfortunately, this is very human and applies to everything (not just in 
the conservation domain). It is here that policy gets in, for instance 
setting mandatory best practices and making sure these are implemented 
by all operators (ideally making sure operators understand why such best 
practice are important).


Dr Martina Milanese, PhD

skype: m.milanese
twitter: @martix_m

Italian Mob. (WA) +39-338-1196672
Moroccan Mob. +212-636808514

Studio Associato Gaia Snc dei Dottori Antonio Sarà e Martina Milanese
Via Brigata Liguria 1/9 scala A
16121 Genova - Italy
PI 01600400996

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