Effects of non-consumptive wildlife-oriented tourism on marine species and prospects for their sustainable management
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Marine non-consumptive wildlife-oriented tourism, whereby tourists observe and/or interact closely with animals, without purposely having a detrimental effect on them, has been growing globally in recent decades. Human-mediated feeding (provisioning) is widely used by tour operators to attract target species, facilitate viewing and interaction with tourists. Although potential effects of such provisioning on terrestrial fauna have been given moderate scientific research attention, equivalent research in the marine environment is limited. Effects of provisioning marine wildlife may include direct habituation, behavioural change, and/or dietary impacts among individuals and species. There may also be disruption to the species associated assemblage. It was found that the literature on the effects of nonconsumptive wildlife tourism is fragmented and results from different areas and taxa are frequently contradictory. Most studies appeared to be of a few years duration, at most. This reflects the relative immaturity of the industry e many enterprises studied typically commenced within the 1990s. Studies (other than fish) tended to focus on a focal species with few addressing the wider implications for the associated assemblage. Supplementary feeding may also have impacts on the health and wellbeing of provisioned animals. It is concluded that such nature tourism is often not benign e focal species and their assemblage are often disrupted. We conclude that funding to better understand the impacts and thus address them is imperative. To supplement funding for the research and monitoring required, an additional charge could incorporated into the fee charged to those engaging in marine wildlife tourism.
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