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Open Access Publications from the University of California

SCUBA Diver User Fees as Sustainable Funding of Coral Reef Based Marine Protected Areas

  • Author(s): Terk, Elizabeth
  • et al.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have become a popular form of conservation and management for tropical coral reefs; however, the majority of MPAs are not efficiently managed or enforced because of an inability to pay management costs. User fees are one method for funding MPAs through the recovery of use values. A user fee system respects the concept of equity, as tour operators and recreational visitors are not allowed free access, but are charged a fee proportional to the economic or recreational value they gain. This study provides important information about willingness to pay for SCUBA diver user fees throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Results show that divers are willing to pay user fees, but reluctance by MPA managers and tourist operators continues to impede implementation of an effective user fees system. Other obstacles to implementation are discussed through case studies, and recommendations for effective implementation of user fees are given.

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