Page 6 - Agius_Theuma_Deidun(2018)
P. 6

Does Absence of Charismatic Species Impact the Ecotourism Potential of Central Mediterranean Islands?  158

             Stakeholders outlined that activities targeting differ-  onment surrounding central Mediterranean islands has
           ent species could be held throughout different months of  been well documented in literature.  The loggerhead
           the month. Whereas this was not a problem as climate  turtle and the bottlenose dolphin are regularly found
           on these islands was fair allowing outdoor activities to  around Maltese waters (Mifsud et al., 2017). Pantel-
           be held throughout most days of the year, one had to  leria serves as a nursery for the loggerhead sea turtle
           be organised and in some cases also plan activities ac-  and the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). One
           cording to the particular season. Furthermore, the ideal  also finds cetaceans such as the fin whale (Balaenop-
           timing to target specific species had to be taken into  tera physalus) and the striped dolphin (Stenella coer-
           consideration to increase likeliness of observing the tar-  uleoalba) apart from several species of rays (Margot-
           get species.                                       tini, 2011). In the case of the Aegadian Islands, vari-
             Stakeholders added that owing to the relatively small  ous marine charismatic species have been identified in-
           size of the islands this also allowed ecotourists to visit  cluding the monk seal, Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus
           various habitats in various protected areas and move  thynnus), loggerhead sea turtles, storm petrels, dolphins
           swiftly in between terrestrial and marine sites reducing  (Stenella coeruleoalba and Tursiops truncates), mantas,
           travelling time and increasing time available to immerse  sharks (Lamna nasus and Prionace glauca) and sperm
           in nature and observe target species.              whales (Physeter macrocephalus) (Donati, 2016), sev-
             Stakeholders interviewed raised alarm on the presence  eral of which are rare on protected (Donati, 2015). The
           of alien species and the possible impact these may have  Pelagian Archipealgo is closely associated with logger-
           on endemic and other species which are considered as  head sea turtle nesting sites which include the Spiagga
           charismatic species. In addition they also expressed con-  dei Conigli on Lampedusa with an area of 6000 m and
           cern on transboundary issues in marine environments  the Spiagga Pozzolana di Ponente on Linosa with an
           such as marine traffic in the area of study, presence of  area of 1100 m (Piovano et al., 2006).
           marine plastic litter, aquaculture and oil drilling that  With respect to the approach to identify smaller less
           may all leave an impact on marine biodiversity includ-  charismatic species possibly non-mammals including in-
           ing charismatic species.                           vertebrates as ecotourism targets one should note that
                                                              emphasis has been made on the need to create new eco-
           4   Discussion                                     tourism opportunities through under-appreciated, less
                                                              charismatic biodiversity in protected areas (Di Minin et
           Irrespective of the rich biodiversity found on islands in  al., 2013). This is supported by the fact that less cha-
           the area of study, large terrestrial charismatic species,  rismatic biodiversity has been valued by tourists as an
           especially large mammals which are normally considered  integral aspect of nature-based experiences (Hausmann,
           as top targets for ecotourism, are absent. The intro-  Slotow, Fraser & Di Minin, 2016). Furthermore, this
           duced deer, wild goats and wild boar on Marettimo are
                                                              is crucial because protected areas which lack charismat-
           an exception. As a result, conversely to what normally
                                                              ics species may fail to attract ecotourists. As a res-
           happens elsewhere, ecotourism targets in the region in-  ult they generate less income for management purposes
           clude smaller, less charismatic species such as the fresh  of the area (Goodwin & Leader-Williams, 2000; Kiss,
           water crab which are at times difficult to observe either  2004). The shifting of attention from large charismatic
           due to their behaviour, limited distribution or limited  species to smaller species and their branding as charis-
           numbers.                                           matic species is also beneficial from a management and
             One finds more diversity and abundance of charis-  conservation perspective. This is because the narrow
           matic species in coastal and marine environments. Only  interest in charismatic species can lead to the underap-
           3 of the 20 most charismatic species identified by Albert  preciation of other biodiversity (Di Minin et al., 2013;
           et al. (2018) are found in the area of study and these are  Kerley, Geach & Vial, 2003) pushing down the conser-
           all marine species (sharks, whales and dolphins). More  vation ladder other small species leading to their poor
           environmental awareness and measures to reverse neg-  conservation (Weaver, 2008). Thus, the absence of large
           ative environmental impacts have also started to bear  mammals implies that conservation will not focus on a
           fruit. This can be confirmed by the return of the log-  single species but will also have a broader perspective
           gerhead turtle to nest on Maltese beaches in 2012, 2016  featuring also smaller species.
           and 2018 (Anonymous, 2018, June 25) following a long  In the case of Mediterranean islands, too much im-
           absence (Deidun & Schembri, 2005). The monk seal   portance given to large mammals can be a threat to the
           has also been sighted on Marettimo (Donati, 2015). As  biodiversity in the region (Gippoliti & Amori, 2006). A
           a result, there is a natural drive favouring the develop-  classic example is the introduction of species considered
           ment of marine ecotourism, ecotourism that takes place  to be charismatic (such as deer on Marettimo) has left
           in coastal and marine environment.                 tremendous negative impacts on trees and plants (Gi-
             The presence of charismatic species in marine envir-

   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11