Perceptions of artificial reefs as scuba diving resources: a study of Australian recreational scuba divers
Stolk, P, Markwell, K & Jenkins, JM 2005, 'Perceptions of artificial reefs as scuba diving resources: a study of Australian recreational scuba divers', Annals of Leisure Research, vol. 8, no. 2-3, pp. 153-166.
Marine-based recreation and tourism activities have experienced substantial growth over the past few decades and concerns about the ecological sustainability of many of these activities have been recognised by researchers, policy-makers and the recreation and tourism industries. One strategy to deal with diver-induced impacts is the creation of new or artificial reefs which, when established, can become substitute dive sites for more naturally occurring reefs. However, there have been very few studies into the acceptability of these substitute reef environments to divers and the social aspects of diving on artificial reefs. This paper explores the perceptions of diving on artificial reefs through a questionnaire survey of a sample of 337 Australian scuba divers. The awareness of artificial reefs as dive sites among respondents was very high, as were the levels of satisfaction with diving on such sites. Many divers recognised the value of these reefs in reducing diver impacts on natural reefs, and the study shows that artificial reefs do hold considerable attraction to divers. It is concluded that artificial reefs have significant potential for broadening the scuba diving resource base and the range of experiences available, and for simultaneously reducing visitor impacts and pressures on natural reefs.