Dive operator use patterns in the designated no-take zones of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS)

Manoj P. Shivlani, Daniel O. Suman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), created by Congress in 1990, addressed the issue of resource protection partly by proposing 26 'no-take' zones. These areas, discussed in the 1995 Draft Management Plan, disallowed all extractive activities, and four of the zones also prohibited diving and snorkeling. Furthermore, the Draft Management Plan considered recreational carrying capacity, proposing that use densities be studied and eventually limited in high-use and sensitive areas. Conducted with 62 commercial dive operators from the Florida Keys in 1995-96, this study uses geographic information systems (GIS) to determine the extent of FKNMS zone use by dive operators, assess the regional importance of FKNMS zones to operators, and compare management strategies by which to allow use while minimizing impacts to the coral reef resource. Dive operators took almost 70% of their total trips and 77% of their total divers to FKNMS zones in 1995. Although zone use is generally related to the proximity of dive locations, dive operators do rely disproportionately on single sites in certain regions. The resulting profiles demonstrate that management strategies need to consider disproportionate use, as well as the average number of users per trip, to effectively protect the region's environmental resources. In addition to implementing a carrying capacity plan, the FKNMS should consider a limited-entry system for dive operators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-659
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2000


  • Carrying capacity
  • Diving
  • Florida Keys
  • GIS
  • MPAs
  • Marine zoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


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