Promoting conservation and economic growth through sustainable tourism initiatives in Mauritius’s Balaclava and Blue Bay Marine Parks
- Client: Albion Fisheries Research Center of the Ministry of Fisheries and Rodrigues and the UNDP – Mauritius
- Project Duration: September 2011 – March 2012
In Mauritius, wildlife populations determine marine ecosystem capacity for food and socially oriented resources. This country has seen substantial economic growth and development—particularly from tourism—in coastal areas. As a result, environmental degradation and resource depletion within areas such as Balaclava and Blue Bay Marine Parks has become a serious problem, and management practices supporting sustainable use of these marine protected areas (MPAs) are necessary to prevent further decline in these systems’ ability to support stakeholders and remain ecologically intact. The improvement of these management practices and alleviation of environmental degradation requires an assessment of the impact tourism activities have on the carrying capacity of these MPAs.
To address these challenges, Solimar conducted a carrying capacity assessment of the impacts of tourism on these two MPAs. The assessment addresses the development and adaptation of innovative co-management arrangements for MPAs and uses tourism conservation models to produce a tailored set of recommendations supporting sustainable tourism development in Balaclava and Blue Bay Marine Parks. The hope is to drive and improve conservation efforts in Mauritius’ coastal areas while simultaneously contributing to economic growth.
- Stakeholder engagement: conducted workshops and interviews with various stakeholders to gather information on environmental threats and tourism.
- Field Surveys: conducted field surveys on land and underwater to identify potential environmental threats and assess the extent of damage caused by them.
- Awareness development: improved signage around the MPAs and developed online media and orientation videos to increase awareness of the parks’ codes of conduct and highlight the attractions in each.
- Capacity building: provide technical training in conservation and sustainable tourism management practices in areas such as customer service, environmental interpretation techniques, communication management, and basic first aid.
Solimar’s carrying capacity assessment and recommendations resulted in the following:
- Improved tourism and conservation management systems
- Increased awareness of biodiversity’s importance to tourism and the overall economy