Volume 71

Meaningful Diving: An Initiative to Improve the Role of Dive Tourism in the Effective Conservation of Fisheries and Coral Reef Ecosystems in the Caribbean

Phanor H. Montoya-Maya
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Date: November, 2018

Pages: 24-25

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: San Andres Island

Country: Colombia


The health of coral reefs has declined significantly over past decades, to the point where several sites in the Caribbean are not longer providing the tourism and fisheries services. Active conservation strategies have expanded in recent years to stop reef degradation and restore the ecological services associated with healthy and complex reefs. While restoration practitioners now use marketing strategies and field activities to raised awareness and engage multiple users in coral reef conservation actions, dive tourism continues to play a small role in these actions. We describe a social initiative focused on citizen science, Buceo con Propósito (Meaningful Diving), which engages the diving industry through training in coral reef monitoring, reef restoration, and responsible diving, providing experiential learning opportunities collect information on reef health, rehabilitate degraded coral reefs, and reduce human impact. Between 2017–2018, we have reached over 10000 people organically who have been introduced to the concept of meaningful diving. Most importantly, 75 divers have assisted in the collection of scientifically sound coral reef health data of 12 sites in Colombia and 50 more have received training on coral gardening for reef restoration purposes. In so doing, we have informed and trained tourists as citizen scientists capable of assisting scientific experts in their active coral reef conservation actions. By scaling up our initiative to enhance participatory public engagement, we hope it can improve the role that reef-based tourism can play in the effective conservation of fisheries and coral reefs ecosystems of the Caribbean region.

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