Contribution to conservation, unique marine adventures and privileged access to sensitive areas...

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  • Slide 1
  • Contribution to conservation, unique marine adventures and privileged access to sensitive areas Experiences from the Great Barrier Reef and beyond Much more than ecotourism Andrew Dunstan University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • Slide 2
  • Marine tourism and its natural assets Marine tourism depends on the sustained quality of the environment it accesses Ranges from a high impact to contributing to the recovery of the very ecosystem it relies upon
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  • And there are some fantastic experiences
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  • Responsible use of the environment Tourism access to sensitive marine areas should be regarded as a privilege rather than a right Operators must be responsible for retaining the environmental integrity of the sites they visit Generally been achieved through governmental management and regulation Tourism companies and associations are taking this responsibility upon themselves through: Codes of best environmental practice In-house research and monitoring programs Funding and berth space for research and management projects Provision of research data to management agencies
  • Slide 6
  • Ecotourism The Nature Conservancy, in cooperation with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) defines eco-tourism as: Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples. This can be extended to: Giving back to the environment to ensure its long term sustainability.
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  • Introduction This presentation: reviews some best practice examples of marine ecotourism their value to the natural resource the benefits to ecotourism operators suggests new directions for smart marine tourism
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  • The value of environmental tourism Major factor in the economy of many countries world-wide Helps drive political and corporate decision making for the protection and conservation of important marine habitats and species. Many locations around the world are renowned for their natural beauty and biodiversity. The Great Barrier Reef Galapagos Islands Macquarie Island Antarctica The Maldives Costa Rica
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  • Iconic marine animals and natural events Charismatic megafauna: Often as important as destinations in providing a tourism drawcard whales coral reefs great white sharks whale sharks manta rays maori wrasse penguins seals big fish coral spawning turtle nesting bait ball aggregations
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  • Marine tourism economic rewards Great Barrier Reef tourism: $1 billion annually to the Australian economy 800 tour operators 1.6 million visitors Maldives tourism: contributes $764 million or 67% of GDP employs 64,000 people or 58% of the workforce Fishing in Maldives: 33% of GDP 25% of employment erodes the natural capital of the Maldives declines of several harvested marine species (sharks, lobsters, sea cucumbers, some reef fish)
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  • Benefits to tourism companies Financial rewards heightened product quality premium pricing opportunities. maintaining the quality of their marine tourism sites input to governmental R & D funding direction Qualified, motivational and experienced marine biologists naturalist guiding environmental management accreditation product enhancement Long term corporate assurances business stability economic value security benefits long term access permits
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  • Tourism driving conservation Indonesia: Manado and Sipadan are oases of life surrounded by exploited fish and coral communities Valuable ecotourism industry for communities struggling through declining fisheries Locations which protect areas and provide high level ecotourism experiences will benefit from the lack of action in other locations as these places decline in quality. Great Barrier Reef: strong tourism operator organisations environmental credibility - support of conservation organisations powerful joint voice for protected areas GBR protection and major rezoning from 5% to 33% protection MoU with fishing groups to protect seamounts in the Coral Sea
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  • Taking ecotourism further Giving back to the environment: conservation, research and rehabilitation efforts Informed and trained personnel in the field daily: record impacts, special events and species sightings undertake long term monitoring of marine areas. Coordinated programs involve many operators: Eye on the Reef BleachWatch Whale sightings CoralWatch Reef Check Animal stranding network
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  • And further still Company vision and marine biologist roles include research and monitoring projects Undersea Explorer, in the past, and Eye to Eye Marine Encounters, currently, have set a benchmark for marine ecotourism. Projects include: dwarf minke whale population structure, ID, human interactions and communication tiger sharks satellite tracking, home range, migration patterns and population size deep sea nautilus - ROV observation, population size, growth rate and vulnerability status coral reef monitoring and Reef Check coordination reef shark studies creating protected areas for shark populations
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  • A special tourism experience Tourists involved directly with internationally renowned scientific experts undertaking exciting and cutting edge research in some of the most iconic marine locations on earth
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  • Marine environmental philanthropy - the mutual benefits Many affluent people love the ocean and seek exclusive and special experiences What about creating an experience they dont know theyre missing out on? Explore places off-limits to normal tourism but open to expeditions which contribute the environment.
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  • The adventures Past philanthropically funded expeditions: discovering interactive minke whale populations tagging and tracking great white and tiger sharks uncovering historic shipwrecks visiting the Titanic and deep sea in manned submersibles IMAX documentary filming explorations beneath the North Pole
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  • Superyacht owners Inviting scientific groups aboard your vessel to explore innovative scientific projects in some of the most amazing oceanic locations on the planet creates great benefits to both parties. opportunity to mix with charismatic marine experts in their field explore places and experience things you never dreamed possible support poorly funded marine science, conservation and management projects provide vessel access to remote areas and innovative equipment where costs are prohibitive
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  • What about living in an underwater habitat? The Aquarius: an underwater ocean laboratory located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary three and half miles offshore, at a depth of 60 feet, next to spectacular coral reefs scientists live in Aquarius during tenday missions owned by NOAA and is operated by the University of Carolina Wilmington $1.5 million a year or about $10,000 per day to fund and join such an expedition
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  • Funding a research vessel with two man submersibles Explore the ocean depths below 1000 metres the Deep Ocean Australia project has the expertise, the submersibles and the projects waiting. the Australian deep ocean has never been explored and will yield new and exciting discoveries Join scientists to be the first to explore the deep ocean seamounts of the Coral Sea, the blue whale aggregation site of the Bonney Upwelling, the Lord Howe Rise and the remote Rowley Shoals.
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  • Adventures and discovery in Newt Suits Piloting the NewtSuit is like being in a suit of armour, but the immense pressure of the sea water is kept out by special joints and seals in the suit. You can move your arms and legs, you can pick up things from the bottom, you can handle tools. And because theres a thruster pack on the back, you can fly around underwater like a hummingbird. A typical dive is about six hours long.. Steve Fuzessery, NewtSuit pilot. Your own personalised submarine suit dive to over 300 metres complete with jetpacks and robot arms explore new ocean realms opportunities not possible using submersible craft
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  • Rescue the worlds largest remaining green turtle population Up to 20,000 nesting turtles per night Adult mortality Nesting and hatching failure Actions planned to remedy problems Raine Island as a turtle refugia
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  • Philanthropic and corporate involvement Benefits include: Tax deductible donations Corporate pride, staff satisfaction and retention Amazing presentation materials for corporate display, personal use and promotional benefit International respect for environmental contribution Priceless, unique and exclusive opportunities for adventure and nature experiences A tangible contribution to the next generation
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  • Conclusion mass marine tourism shift towards high level ecotourism philanthropic and corporate involvement new cutting edge and thrilling marine projects and expeditions This is the future of smart marine tourism
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  • Acknowledgements University of Queensland Deep Ocean Australia project Undersea Explorer Eye to Eye Marine Encounters Photography Jurgen Freund & John Rumney