The NMS-COUNT Iterative Framework: Phase 1

Published: 21 April 2020
Last edited: 22 April 2020

In Phase 1, researchers review the literature for a comprehensive understanding of methods in visitor sampling, estimation, and monitoring in a range of settings. From this research, potential methods and the types of data they produce are identified, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using each method at different scales. To examine which methods and indicators of visitation are most effective in a chosen NMS, all site attributes, visitor activities, and conditions (social, biophysical, regulatory, spatial, and temporal, etc.) of the sanctuary are inventoried. Researchers then determine which methods are potentially appropriate for that particular sanctuary, at a range of confidence levels (low to high). Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary will be used as an example to better understand NMS-COUNT throughout this solution.

Classifications

Category
Co-management building
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Evaluation, effectiveness measures and learning
Management planning
Scale of implementation
Local
Phase of solution
Planning phase

Enabling factors

A high degree of interaction from researchers is required in this phase. During Phase 1, researchers gathered and compiled materials to understand the site layout, attributes, conditions and reported recreation activities. Researchers must conduct a foundational assessment to fully understand the indicators and standards set for the management of the protected area, the values associated with the setting, and any setting attributes that are unique that would not allow for replicating to other settings.

Lessons learned

Two primary activities at Gray's Reef were identified - diving and fishing, with the primary activity being recreational fishing. This helps inform the NMS-COUNT process with focal data sources that identify volume, frequency and impact of this dominant visitation type. Some existing data sources inform the process, such as those visitation counts captured by other survey methods (e.g. law enforcement patrols, automated vessel identification systems, etc.). Beyond existing data sources, the potential visitor estimation methods examined for this entirely offshore protected area setting were boat-launched drones, fixed-wing aircraft, and on-site surveying.