• Open Access

Coral reef quality and recreation fees in marine protected areas

Authors

  • Jeffrey Wielgus,

    1. Life Sciences Department, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
    2. Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
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  • Andrew Balmford,

    1. Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
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  • Tiffany B. Lewis,

    1. Life Sciences Department, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
    2. Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403, USA
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  • Camilo Mora,

    1. Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax B3H 4J1, Canada
    2. Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
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  • Leah R. Gerber

    1. Life Sciences Department, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
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Correspondence
Jeffrey Wielgus, World Resources Institute, 10G St. N.E., Washington, DC 20002, USA. Tel: +1 (202) 729-7786; fax: +1 (202) 729-7610. E-mail: jwielgus@wri.org

Abstract

The recreational use of marine protected areas (MPAs) is a potential source of funding for MPAs in developing countries, for instance given the willingness of international divers to pay considerably higher diving fees than they currently pay. We conducted a global survey of MPAs containing coral reefs to investigate what factors are important in determining the size of fees charged to recreational SCUBA divers. The survey suggests that a negative perception about diving fees by managers is a more important predictor of fee size than the quality of diving, which can help explain the prevalently low size of diving fees. Decentralized fee systems and higher diving fees can help capture some of the surplus willingness to pay for diving in MPAs, but an excessive reliance on tourism for funding MPA management could expose coral reefs to damages.

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