Special Issue "The Blue Economy: Evaluating the Human Benefits from and Pressures on Marine and Coastal Environments"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Oceans and Coastal Zones".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021) | Viewed by 15237

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Robert C. Burns
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
Interests: anthropogenic uses of protected areas
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Danielle Schwarzmann
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
Interests: marine economics and ecosystem services
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Blue Economy involves coupling the economic and environment sustainability of our ocean and coastal zone settings worldwide. Although defined slightly differently across the world, the Blue Economy can be defined as sustainable productive, service, and all other related activities using and protecting coastal and marine resources’ sustainable development that meets Goal 14 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development strategy. In this Special Issue, we seek to understand and report on ocean and coastal zone human uses and economic interactions. This includes both the ways in which humans benefit from the marine environment via ecosystem services and the pressures on ocean and coastal environments from human use both in the water (e.g., marine transportation and fishing) and on land (e.g., agriculture and development). Human actions, whether we are receiving benefits from the environment or engaged in behavior that influences environmental quality, impact the value of the Blue Economy. By focusing on both the lives and livelihoods of people who may be providing or being provided benefits from the environment, particularly important in the post-COVID-19 reality, this Special Edition will provide an array of research related to the Blue Economy.

Prof. Dr. Robert C. Burns
Dr. Danielle Schwarzmann
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Blue Economy
  • Sustainability
  • Ocean economy
  • Recreational fishing
  • Marine recreation
  • Food security
  • Wastewater runoff
  • Sustainable development
  • Restoration

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

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Article
Updating the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Management Plan: Estimating the Impact to Commercial Fishing in Monroe County, Florida
Water 2022, 14(3), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14030290 - 19 Jan 2022
Viewed by 385
Abstract
This article is designed to provide the methodologies used to estimate the impact to the commercial fishing industry as a result of spatial zone management changes within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and its study area, Monroe County, FL. The analysis provided here [...] Read more.
This article is designed to provide the methodologies used to estimate the impact to the commercial fishing industry as a result of spatial zone management changes within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and its study area, Monroe County, FL. The analysis provided here provides a template for how to estimate economic impacts when refined human use spatial data are not available. Utilizing existing habitat maps and economic data, this method downscales traditional economic methods using a spatial approach to match the fine-scale management approach utilized by the National Marine Sanctuary System. This approach allows the authors to estimate the economic impacts to the commercial fishing sector. The authors find that the proposed spatial zone changes may result in an estimated loss of 42 jobs, with 28 being harvester jobs, to the state of Florida. Additionally, $4.1 million in output and approximately $1.1 million in income may be lost. These estimates do not take into account the likelihood of substitution to alternative fishing grounds or adjusting the target species. Full article
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Article
Economic Contributions of Visitor Spending in Ocean Recreation in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Water 2022, 14(2), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14020198 - 11 Jan 2022
Viewed by 358
Abstract
Understanding the economic value of marine sanctuaries such as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) is important to justify public and private investments and to provide information to support management activities and understand their role in the nation’s blue economy. Very few [...] Read more.
Understanding the economic value of marine sanctuaries such as the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) is important to justify public and private investments and to provide information to support management activities and understand their role in the nation’s blue economy. Very few studies have employed economic contribution analysis in examining economic value, even though it is more useful in influencing the behaviors of decision makers. This study therefore employs such a methodology to determine the economic importance of tourism and visitor spending in the sanctuary to Monroe County, Florida’s economy. Visitors who came to the area for ocean recreation and tourism spent a total of USD 1.7 billion, which translates to a contribution of 19,688 total jobs, USD 752 million in total labor income, USD 1.2 billion in total value added, and USD 2 billion in total output to the region. With regard to the spending of snorkelers and divers only, total spending is about USD 1.07 billion, contributing about 12,441 total jobs, USD 466 million in total labor income, USD 767 million in total value added, and USD 1.2 billion in total output. Ocean recreation is therefore an important economic driver in the region and efforts should be directed at protecting the diverse and sensitive ecosystem of the sanctuary. Full article
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Article
User Satisfaction and Crowding at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Water 2021, 13(23), 3423; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13233423 - 03 Dec 2021
Viewed by 644
Abstract
Effective management and monitoring of recreational use is fundamental in marine protected areas. The primary purpose of this study is to examine user’s satisfaction levels, crowding levels and the relationship between them at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Online surveys were sent via [...] Read more.
Effective management and monitoring of recreational use is fundamental in marine protected areas. The primary purpose of this study is to examine user’s satisfaction levels, crowding levels and the relationship between them at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Online surveys were sent via Qualtrics to email addresses obtained from the state of Florida during the summer of 2020. The results showed that the respondents felt very satisfied and only slightly crowded while snorkeling or scuba diving during their most recent 2019 trip in the Florida Keys, although satisfaction was still negatively impacted by crowding. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that satisfaction levels were significantly lower in users who saw more people than they expected. A linear regression indicated significantly lower satisfaction with increasing age. Furthermore, a multiple regression showed that experiencing natural surroundings has a significant positive relationship in overall trip satisfaction, i.e., users that are more satisfied experiencing natural surroundings are also likely to be more satisfied with their overall trip satisfaction. This study suggests that the convergence of social and natural resource research and practices can help managers to create better policies that will maximize human benefits from, and minimize human pressures on, ocean and coastal environments. Full article
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Article
Identifying the Blue Economy Global Epistemic Community
Water 2021, 13(22), 3234; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223234 - 15 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 785
Abstract
The following article aims to identify the characteristics of the epistemic community of Blue Economy researchers, through the description of its scientific production, its special organization and clustering. The information was examined using bibliometric techniques on 302 research works using the Web of [...] Read more.
The following article aims to identify the characteristics of the epistemic community of Blue Economy researchers, through the description of its scientific production, its special organization and clustering. The information was examined using bibliometric techniques on 302 research works using the Web of Science databases (JCR) between 2013 and 2021. At the same time, VOSviewer software was used to represent the relationships metrically and visually between the data and metadata. A set of research works is reviewed which relates environmental conservation and its implication in the development of the territory, and the relationship between technology and the improvement of ocean management, to highlight those state interventions where benefits are generated for the population or where there is an important challenge for improvement. Full article
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Article
A Case Study of a Prymnesium parvum Harmful Algae Bloom in the Ohio River Drainage: Impact, Recovery and Potential for Future Invasions/Range Expansion
Water 2021, 13(22), 3233; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223233 - 15 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 682
Abstract
Inland waters provide valuable ecosystem goods and services and are intrinsically linked to downstream coastal areas. Water quality impairments that lead to harmful algal blooms damage valuable commercial and recreational fishing economies, threaten food security, and damage already declining native species. Prymnesium parvum [...] Read more.
Inland waters provide valuable ecosystem goods and services and are intrinsically linked to downstream coastal areas. Water quality impairments that lead to harmful algal blooms damage valuable commercial and recreational fishing economies, threaten food security, and damage already declining native species. Prymnesium parvum is a brackish water golden alga that can survive in salinities less than 1 ppm and when it blooms it can create toxins that kill aquatic life. Blooms have been documented globally including 23 U.S. states. We report a case study of an aquatic life kill associated with P. parvum in Dunkard Creek (WV-PA, USA), in the Ohio River Drainage. We document the immediate impact to aquatic life and responses of the aquatic community ten years post-kill. Most fish species returned within a year. Excellent connectivity to unimpacted tributaries and a river downstream likely aided the reestablishment of most species, although some had not reached pre-kill abundances after ten years. Mussel taxa did not recover despite significant efforts to relocate adult mussels and stocking of host fish inoculated with glochidia; probably due to other water quality impairments. Given the potential for lateral transport of P. parvum via industry and natural vectors we conducted an ecological risk assessment mapping the spatial extent of U.S. waters that could be threatened by golden algae colonization and blooms using a national water quality database and a state database. Overall, about 4.5% of lotic systems appeared to have some level of risk of harboring P. parvum, making them at risk for potential golden algae blooms in the face of increasing salinization and eutrophication of freshwaters. Full article
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Article
A Longitudinal Study of the Local Community Perspective on Ecotourism Development in Lombok, Indonesia
Water 2021, 13(17), 2398; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13172398 - 31 Aug 2021
Viewed by 983
Abstract
This study examined stakeholders’ perception related to the Korea–Indonesia international ecotourism official development assistance project in Tunak, Lombok, Indonesia. In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 local community members, government officers, and project executors in 2014 and 2020. Six themes arose from the respondents’ [...] Read more.
This study examined stakeholders’ perception related to the Korea–Indonesia international ecotourism official development assistance project in Tunak, Lombok, Indonesia. In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 local community members, government officers, and project executors in 2014 and 2020. Six themes arose from the respondents’ perceptions: nature appreciation, enhancement of sociocultural development, prospect of stakeholder involvement, boosting environmental conditions, present economic contributions for conservation, and project deficiencies. The results showed that the project was carried out in line with the initial plan and emphasized local community involvement. However, the community’s dependence on external help could lead to unsustainable ecotourism practices in the future. Through various project programs, the local village’s economy and infrastructure started to develop. Education and direct local community involvement positively affected the local community conditions, both in sociocultural and economic terms. Full article
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Article
Landscape Preferences of Visitors to the Danube Floodplains National Park, Vienna
Water 2021, 13(16), 2178; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13162178 - 09 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 936
Abstract
Successfully managing heavily visited protected riverscapes requires information about visitor preferences for the social, biophysical and infrastructural attributes of river landscapes. This study analyzed the landscape preferences of 520 on-site visitors to the peri-urban Danube Floodplains National Park using an image-based discrete choice [...] Read more.
Successfully managing heavily visited protected riverscapes requires information about visitor preferences for the social, biophysical and infrastructural attributes of river landscapes. This study analyzed the landscape preferences of 520 on-site visitors to the peri-urban Danube Floodplains National Park using an image-based discrete choice experiment. The study explored the effects of various landscape types (water bodies, terrestrial landscapes), recreational infrastructures (trail types, facilities) and trail use conditions (trail user numbers, activities) on respondents’ preferences. The results indicated that natural features, such as floodplain forests in combination with meadows or xeric alluvial biotopes, were preferred, while dense forests and, particularly, open agrarian structures were less preferred. Water bodies with 50% reed cover, few people on the trail, alleys of trees and gravel trails were favored. The outcomes serve as the basis for design recommendations for planned recreational areas surrounding the national park with the aim of absorbing visitors and reducing use pressure on the protected area. Full article
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Article
Resident Perceptions of Ecosystem Services Provided by U.S. Coral Reefs: Highlights from the First Cycle of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program’s Socioeconomic Survey
Water 2021, 13(15), 2081; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13152081 - 30 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1384
Abstract
Despite being among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, coral reefs face ongoing threats that could negatively impact the human populations who depend on them. The National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP) collects and monitors data on various aspects of U.S. coral reefs [...] Read more.
Despite being among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth, coral reefs face ongoing threats that could negatively impact the human populations who depend on them. The National Coral Reef Monitoring Program (NCRMP) collects and monitors data on various aspects of U.S. coral reefs to provide a holistic understanding of the status of the reefs and adjacent human communities. This paper explores results from the NCRMP’s first socioeconomic monitoring cycle using an ecosystem services framework and examines how these results can be used to improve coral reef management in the following U.S. coral reef jurisdictions: American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Florida, Guam, Hawai’i, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Results suggest that residents in the U.S. Pacific coral reef basin may hold stronger cultural and provisioning values, whereas residents in the U.S. Atlantic coral reef basin may hold stronger regulating values. These findings suggest that outreach efforts have been successful in communicating benefits provided by coral reef ecosystems to the public. They also provide insight into which ecosystem services are valued in each jurisdiction, allowing resource managers to make science-based decisions about how to communicate conservation and management initiatives. Full article
Article
Economic Contribution Analysis of National Estuarine Research Reserves
Water 2021, 13(11), 1596; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13111596 - 05 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 992
Abstract
Increased attention to the value of protected natural areas has led to the proliferation of ecosystem service valuations for coastal habitats. However, these studies do not provide a full representation of the economic value of these habitats. Protected coastal environments, such as the [...] Read more.
Increased attention to the value of protected natural areas has led to the proliferation of ecosystem service valuations for coastal habitats. However, these studies do not provide a full representation of the economic value of these habitats. Protected coastal environments, such as the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), add jobs and revenue to their local communities. Institutions such as NERRS provide economic contributions that extend beyond their operational spending and jobs they provide. Spending by reserves and their partners ripples throughout the economy. We performed an economic contribution analysis at four pilot sites using input-output modeling through IMPLAN. Sites contributed millions in revenue and tens to hundreds of jobs in their respective regions. Each of the four sites had a different category of spending that was the largest contributor of revenue and jobs, which is likely due to the community context and location of the reserves. Understanding these contributions is helpful in validating funding for NERRS. Communicating these contributions along with ecosystem service values may increase support from community members who otherwise do not use or rely on NERRS as much as traditional reserve supporters. Full article
Article
Influence of the Evolution of Marine Industry Structure on the Green Total Factor Productivity of Marine Economy
Water 2021, 13(8), 1108; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081108 - 17 Apr 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 948
Abstract
The 14th five-year plan emphasizes the importance of marine ecology and environmental protection, and the green concept is incorporated into the high-quality development system of the marine economy. This research used the data of 11 coastal provinces and cities in China from 2006 [...] Read more.
The 14th five-year plan emphasizes the importance of marine ecology and environmental protection, and the green concept is incorporated into the high-quality development system of the marine economy. This research used the data of 11 coastal provinces and cities in China from 2006 to 2016, based on the super-efficiency slack-based measure model and global Malmquist index model. The objective was to calculate the green total factor productivity (GTFP) of the marine economy, to study the impact of the evolution of the marine industrial structure on marine economic GTFP. The study found the following: (1) in general, the upgrade of marine industrial structure promoted the growth of marine economic GTFP and presented an inverted “U” trend of initially promoting and then suppressing. Spatially, only the advancement and rationalization of industrial structure in the Yellow and Bohai Sea regions inhibited the growth of marine economic GTFP. In terms of time, the advanced marine industrial structure promoted the growth of GTFP from 2006 to 2010, whereas that of industrial structure inhibited the growth of GTFP from 2011 to 2016. (2) The GTFP of the marine economy showed an increasing trend, but the conversion rate of production technology is low. Falling into the “efficiency trap” of highly advanced technology input and low-efficiency technology output should be avoided. (3) Affected by the mismatch of regional resources or industrial structure, government intervention showed an “opposite” mechanism in areas with different marine economic strengths. Government intervention in areas with higher marine economic strength was conducive to GTFP growth, whereas government intervention in areas with weaker marine economic strength would hinder GTFP growth. Full article
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Article
Fishery-Based Ecotourism in Developing Countries Can Enhance the Social-Ecological Resilience of Coastal Fishers—A Case Study of Bangladesh
Water 2021, 13(3), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13030292 - 25 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1854
Abstract
The importance of recreational fishing, in many coastal areas and less developed nations, is increasing rapidly. Connecting fisheries to tourism can create innovative tourism products and provide new income sources. The present study is the first to explore the concept of coastal fishery-based [...] Read more.
The importance of recreational fishing, in many coastal areas and less developed nations, is increasing rapidly. Connecting fisheries to tourism can create innovative tourism products and provide new income sources. The present study is the first to explore the concept of coastal fishery-based ecotourism (FbE) to enhance the social–ecological resilience of coastal fishing communities in a specific tourist spot in Bangladesh. A combination of primary (quantitative and qualitative) and secondary (literature databases) data sources were used in this study. It applied a social–ecological system (SES) and social–ecological resilience (SER) concept to collect quantitative and qualitative data (120 in-depth individual interviews, four focus group discussions, and strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats-SWOT analyses) and frame their interpretation. The study found that Bangladesh needs to adopt a firm policy to utilize tourism’s potential in national economic development and societal progress. The findings show the considerable potential of the concept that integrates business, education, and an environmental conservation perspective in Bangladesh, specifically for Saint Martin’s Island: 32% of interviewees expressed that increasing employment opportunities and the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) is the primary potential, whereas 31% said it would attract fishing tourists and 23% believed it would develop the local infrastructure and facilities for fishing and tourism. Similarly, most of the respondents (31%) thought that the lack of awareness and promotional activities is the main limitation preventing this initiative from being well accepted. Moreover, based on the findings, specific measures for strengthening the social–ecological resilience of the coastal fishers via FbE at the local level were suggested, including building communal links, developing community infrastructures, revising prevailing rules and regulations, offering alternative means of generating income for fishers during disaster periods, and more active sharing of responsibility between stakeholders and government for the management of FbE. Finally, with its focus on the prospects and challenges of coastal FbE development on Saint Martin’s Island, this article provides a useful reference point for future discourse on similar social and economic strategies. While this study focuses on Bangladesh’s coastal fishing villages, the results are possibly applicable more broadly in similar contexts and developing countries worldwide. Full article
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Review

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Review
Blue Economy and Blue Activities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Recommendations for The Bahamas
Water 2021, 13(10), 1399; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101399 - 17 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1724
Abstract
Following the global shutdown of tourism at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, small island developing states such as The Bahamas had their economies immobilized due to their heavy dependence on the industry. Beyond economic recovery in a post COVID-19 paradigm, the blue [...] Read more.
Following the global shutdown of tourism at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, small island developing states such as The Bahamas had their economies immobilized due to their heavy dependence on the industry. Beyond economic recovery in a post COVID-19 paradigm, the blue economy, blue growth, and associated activities offer pathways for a more resilient economy and is well-suited for The Bahamas. This paper suggests conduits for economic development using a traditional strength, coastal and marine tourism, in conjunction with the emerging fields of ocean renewable energy, offshore aquaculture, marine biotechnology, and bioprospecting. The interlinkages between each activity are discussed. Knowledge gaps in offshore aquaculture, ocean renewable energy, marine biotechnology, and marine environment monitoring are identified. In each sector case, strategic and tactical decision-making can be achieved through the exploitation of ocean numerical modeling and observations, and consequently should be invested in and developed alongside the requisite computational resources. Blue growth is encouraged, but instances of blue injustice are also highlighted. Crucially, pursuing blue economy activities should be given top national priority for economic recovery and prosperity. Full article
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Review
Blue Water Visitor Monitoring Potential: A Literature Review and Alternative Proposal
Water 2021, 13(3), 305; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13030305 - 27 Jan 2021
Viewed by 890
Abstract
This review presents a summary of existing visitor monitoring methods and relevant studies in land and marine-based areas, with a focus on the application to unique aquatic settings. Various opportunities and challenges exist with respect to the use of each method in different [...] Read more.
This review presents a summary of existing visitor monitoring methods and relevant studies in land and marine-based areas, with a focus on the application to unique aquatic settings. Various opportunities and challenges exist with respect to the use of each method in different marine settings. These methods differ in terms of the complexity, costs, level of accuracy, and detailed information they provide. Furthermore, the feasibility of applying these methods also depends on the site attributes of a marine area. Since each marine area varies in geographical scale and environmental and social conditions, some methods will be more appropriate or perform more successfully than others in a particular location. Therefore, the consideration of these methods should be part of a proposed alternative process, focused on adaptive monitoring that scales to address visitor ebbs and flows in these aquatic areas. The proposed alternative seeks to develop consensus around quantitative goals for visitor monitoring and estimating techniques in marine settings, using a customizable mix of methods and techniques. This alternative effort progresses to subsequent tasks and discussions, and recommendations are made considering the feasibility and confidence of using these methods in particular marine settings and future pilot sites. Full article
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Other

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Case Report
Fernando de Noronha Archipelago (Brazil): A Coastal Geopark Proposal to Foster the Local Economy, Tourism and Sustainability
Water 2021, 13(11), 1586; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13111586 - 04 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1334
Abstract
Coastal zones across the world are often listed as protected areas as a result of their sensitive ecosystems and frequent social uses. One category of protected area that allows for protection and use is a geopark. A geopark combines geological heritage conservation with [...] Read more.
Coastal zones across the world are often listed as protected areas as a result of their sensitive ecosystems and frequent social uses. One category of protected area that allows for protection and use is a geopark. A geopark combines geological heritage conservation with sustainable development and must include meaningful geological characteristics, and scientific content. Geoparks can stimulate the coastal economy through the appreciation of the heritage and development of sustainable tourism, along with environmental protection and interpretation. There are geoparks on islands and coastal areas in many continents. Fernando de Noronha archipelago (Brazil), has relevant geodiversity and the potential to join the Global Geoparks Network (GGN). For the creation of a geopark, it is important to acknowledge its geological heritage and relevance. This has already been done in Fernando de Noronha by the Geological Service of Brazil (CPRM), through the identification of the geosites in the island. The goal of this case study is to present actions that have been carried out and that may help on the report development for the proposed Geopark, as well as present the benefits that a geopark can bring to a coastal area. Opportunities for improving the economy with geoproducts and geofood are presented. Full article
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