Ocean Science Summary: Global Benefits and Impacts of Marine Recreational Activities

Sep 14, 2010

Marine recreational activities (MRAs), such as recreational fishing and whale watching, are being enjoyed by more people than ever and can have significant economic benefits. However, they have historically been over-looked in ocean resource management efforts even though these activities depend upon healthy marine ecosystems. To incorporate MRAs effectively into marine resource management plans, managers need to be able to quantify a full range of the benefits and impacts of MRAs.

Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor and his co-author, Rashid Sumaila from the University of British Columbia, examined three MRAs: recreational fishing, diving and whale watching. They estimated the level of participation in these activities worldwide, how much people spent to participate and how many jobs were supported. Theirs is the first study to assess the socioeconomic value of MRAs on a global scale. The authors found that MRAs were enjoyed by roughly 121 million people worldwide, generated $47 billion in expenditures annually and supported more than 1 million jobs. They also pointed out that the growth of these activities could exacerbate their potential ecological impacts, such as whale watching that disturbs breeding or feeding animals. Therefore, the effect of MRAs should be considered like any other activity with ecosystem impacts, such as commercial fishing, and included in a comprehensive resource management plan. This Pew Ocean Science Series report is a summary of the scientists’ findings.

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