Evaluating the attractiveness and effectiveness of artificial coral reefs as a recreational ecosystem service

Yaniv Belhassen, Meghan Rousseau, Jenny Tynyakov, Nadav Shashar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Artificial reefs are increasingly being used around the globe to attract recreational divers, for both environmental and commercial reasons. This paper examines artificial coral reefs as recreational ecosystem services (RES) by evaluating their attractiveness and effectiveness and by examining divers’ attitudes toward them. An online survey targeted at divers in Israel (n = 263) indicated that 35% of the dives in Eilat (a resort city on the shore of the Red Sea) take place at artificial reefs. A second study monitored divers’ behavior around the Tamar artificial reef, one of the most popular submerged artificial reefs in Eilat, and juxtaposed it with divers’ activities around two adjacent natural reefs. Findings show that the average diver density at the artificial reef was higher than at the two nearby natural knolls and that the artificial reef effectively diverts divers from natural knolls. A third study that examined the attitudes towards natural vs. artificial reefs found that the artificial reefs are considered more appropriate for training, but that divers feel less relaxed around them. By utilizing the RES approach as a framework, the study offers a comprehensive methodology that brings together the aesthetic, behavioral, and attitudinal aspects in terms of which artificial reefs can be evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-456
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume203
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Ecological aesthetic
  • Ecosystem services
  • Human ecology
  • Recreational diving
  • Sustainable tourism development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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