Coral damage by recreational diving activities in a Marine Protected Area of India: Unaccountability leading to 'tragedy of the not so commons'
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Globally, coral reefs have drastically degraded due to local and global environmental stressors. Concurrently, coral reef tourism is rapidly growing in developing economies, which is one of many anthropogenic stressors impacting reefs. At the Malvan Marine Sanctuary, a Marine Protected Area (MPA) on the West coast of India, we investigated the impact of recreational diving on the reef from 2016 to 2019. To evaluate the diver's underwater behavior, a novel approach was used, wherein the video-log broadcasting website www.youtube.com was perused. Evidential proof substantiates heavy physical damage to corals because of recreational diving activity, which may lead to the collapse of coral habitat if it continues unabated. This resource depletion ironically elevates the economy of dependents averting consequences due to lost corals, thus making this a 'tragedy' for corals which are not meant to be 'commons'. The study asserts need for proactive conservation efforts with stringent implementation and restoration initiatives in this MPA.
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