The value of a healthy marine environment

This PhD project aims to investigate the risks and benefits of participating in marine recreation, and understand how the perceptions and values of the public influence their decisions to participate.

To achieve these aims, a review of the existing literature is being conducted identifying the risks and benefits of the marine environment to health, as well as identifying an appropriate method for exploring values and perceptions. Participatory activities will be conducted to explore what the public considers to be the risks and benefits of using the marine environment with a view to developing and conducting a survey of recreational marine users in Cornwall.

The public’s preferences and values for a safe, healthy and productive marine environment will be quantified, as well as how these preferences influence individuals’ decisions to participate in marine recreation. Finally, recommendations will be made for public health policy and marine management relating to the development of coastal and marine recreational activities.

The marine environment offers numerous benefits for human health by providing a source of food as well as recreation, exercise and relaxation. The marine environment can, however, be the cause of poor health. Contact with polluted waters, consumption of contaminated seafood and marine based accidents can result in death or serious afflictions in those affected.

Little is known about how the public perceives the state of the marine environment, how these perceptions impact upon decisions to participate in marine recreational activities and to what extent these decisions affect local economies, particularly in Cornwall.

This study is being conducted in conjunction with Plymouth Marine Laboratory, where Andrea spends a large part of her time.