Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Amelia Moore

Abstract

In this study, I qualitatively investigated perceptions of Conservation Managers, Dive Tour Operators, and Dive Tourists surrounding the use of anthropogenically modified underwater environments to benefit marine conservation through tourism. Using the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Coral Reef Sculpture Garden off of the island of New Providence in The Bahamas as a focal point, this study explored the similarities and differences in perception relating to (1) experiences of underwater environments and activities, (2) knowledge of the Sculpture Garden goals and uses, (3) understanding and development of sustainable tourism, (4) the use of an underwater Sculpture Garden as a means of promoting marine conservation through tourism, (5) understanding and thoughts regarding marine debris and marine pollution, and (6) knowledge of policies relating to the marine debris and marine pollution. These topics were the focus in order to evaluate the success of the goals of installing this Sculpture Garden which were to promote marine conservation and sustainable tourism and educate on marine debris and marine pollution. Overall, it was determined that perceptions generally align between tourists, Dive Tour Operators and Conservation Managers; however, some respondents were more educated than others on certain topics, causing gaps in information and missed educational opportunities. All three groups agreed that the Sculpture Garden would benefit from increased educational and promotional materials; but, it was also discovered that the main reason the Sculpture Garden has not been fully utilized for marine conservation education was that it is also a site of unpredictable oil pollution. All groups agreed that policies surrounding marine debris and marine pollution in New Providence need to be better enforced and publicized. In conclusion, it was determined that the oil pollution must be addressed before the Sculpture Garden can truly be used as an effective tourism-based marine conservation tool. Due to the alignment of the tourism and conservation sectors pertaining to this issue, there is an excellent opportunity for them to work together to lobby the government and energy industry to clean up the oil pollution and improve policy enforcement, improve the conditions of the Sculpture Garden site, and create more extensive educational opportunities surrounding the Sculpture Garden.

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