Coastal zones are popular recreational areas that substantially contribute to social welfare. Managers can use information about specific environmental features that people value, and how these might change under different management scenarios, to spatially target actions to areas of high current or potential value. We explored how snorkelers' experience would be affected by separate and combined land and marine management actions in West Maui, Hawaiʻi, using a Bayesian belief network (BBN) and a spatially explicit ecosystem services model. The BBN simulates the attractiveness of a site for recreation by combining snorkeler preferences for coastal features with expert opinions on ecological dynamics, snorkeler behavior, and management actions. A choice experiment with snorkelers elucidated their preferences for sites with better ecological and water-quality conditions. Linking the economic elicitation to the spatially explicit BBN to evaluate land-sea management scenarios provides specific guidance on where and how to act in West Maui to maximize ecosystem service returns. Improving coastal water quality through sediment runoff and cesspool effluent reductions (land management), and enhancing coral reef ecosystem conditions (marine management) positively affected overall snorkeling attractiveness across the study area, but with differential results at specific sites. The highest improvements were attained through joint land-sea management, driven by strong efforts to increase fish abundance and reduce sediment; however, the effects of management at individual beaches varied.
Read the full article in Ecological Economics.