Defining a protocol for recreational scuba diving carrying capacity within a marine protected area (MPA)

Pelayo Rico

Honduras has over 91 protected areas, however only 28 of them are legally declared coastal and marine protected areas. Roatan is one of the 3 protected islands within the Bay Islands National Marine Park (PNMIB). Roatan, is located in the Mesoamerican reef (MAR) region. Its economy is dependent on tourism having over 1 million tourists each year. A big part of this tourism is motivated by scuba diving related activities. The objective of this thesis is to obtain scientific information that will local and international decision makers in Rotan in their aim to protect Roatan’s coral reefs and the communities that depend on it for their livelihoods. To do this we selected 10 dive sites representative of the majority of dive sites of the island and assessed their Carrying Capacity. In addition, we evaluated the role of different factors related to recreational scuba diving that could place coral reefs in risk (level of certification/experience and lionfish spear).