Non-Regulatory Approaches to Marine Wildlife Tourism: The Dolphin Smart Experiment in Hawaiʻi

Jaspers, Krista E.
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2014]
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Observations of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) that experience repeated encounters with tourists suggest that the dolphins may alter their behavior in ways that may be detrimental to their population in the long term. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency responsible for enforcing the Marine Mammal Protection Act, has been developing alternative management measures for consideration in an environmental impact statement. These measures will likely include time and area closures of critical resting bays and approach distance limits. In the meantime, the agency has relied upon a public service campaign seeking voluntary compliance with responsible wildlife viewing guidelines. A study of Oʻahu tour operators participating in a voluntary code of conduct and certification program called Dolphin SMART suggests that the practice of "leap-frogging" and other strategic behavior to increase the tour customers' proximity and the duration of in-water dolphin encounters will persist unless a blanket prohibition on swim-with dolphin tours is adopted. This research qualitatively measures the success of the Dolphin SMART program in Hawaiʻi and the effectiveness of NOAA's strategy of introducing a voluntary certification program. Results highlight why some dolphin tour operators on Oʻahu have decided to be Dolphin SMART and some have not, information that is useful to NOAA and Dolphin SMART managers with making future implementation of the program more successful.
MA University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 60–64).
spinner dolphin, Stenella longirostris, management, tourism, conservation
iv, 64 leaves
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Geography.
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