Towards adaptive management of mooring systems to reduce the threats of yachting tourism in marine protected areas. [graduate project].
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Marine protected areas (MPAs) are often popular tourism destinations, and therefore, must be managed to accommodate tourism while protecting marine ecosystem health. This project explored the potential for adaptive management of mooring systems to reduce the threats of yachts in MPAs, specifically The Tobago Cays Marine Park (TCMP), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA), Grenada. Linkages between processes and yachting pressures operating within the MPAs were assessed with the DPSIR conceptual framework. In-water assessments of the current mooring systems were conducted to create mooring databases. Google Earth was used to map the current locations and identify sites for the new mooring systems. Visitation data from the MPAs were analyzed to provide insight on park usage (number of yachts, people per boat, time spent in MPA, size of boats, regulatory violations). A review of literature and management documents allowed for the identification of mooring management best practices, as well as the threats associated with yachts mooring within MPAs. The research informed adaptive mooring management plans (AMMPs) for both MPAs. The AMMPs aim to maximize the benefits of mooring systems and mitigate the threats of yachts to MPAs. Indicators have been selected for monitoring with the intent of informing management adaptations and providing data to enhance the understanding of the MPAs’ carrying capacities. This study contributes to the need for mechanisms to ensure that yachting tourism in MPAs does not compromise biodiversity or the delivery of ecosystem goods and services.