Demographics, Attitudes, Management Preferences, and Economic Impacts of Sport Divers using Artificial Reefs in Offshore Texas Waters
To do an effective job of deploying artificial reefs in Texas offshore waters, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) reef planners and managers need to know as much about their user constituencies as they do marine resources. Reef siting has much to do with human population and tourism densities and the expressed demand for diving-related resources along the Texas coast. This project sought to characterize diver clientele in terms of their demographic characteristics, participation patterns, level of involvement in scuba diving, experience preferences, motivations, attitudes, management preferences, and expenditures. Sport diver expenditures according to where they were made (in coastal communities in Texas, elsewhere in Texas, and out-of-state) allowed for the calculation of the total economic impact of sport divers on Texas coastal communities and at the state level. Diver charter boat operators were asked to provide names and addresses for a representative sample of their diving customers. A random sample of 1,059 sport divers was selected from dive charter boat receipts and records: there were 614 divers taking trips to the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary and 445 divers in proportion to the known number of non-Flower Gardens trips by region of the Texas coast. An 11-page mail questionnaire was developed to collect data from the sample of divers. Of the 1,059 questionnaires mailed, 528 were returned usable for an overall effective response rate 56.2%. An insufficient number of non-respondents could be contacted to test for differences in responses with respondents. Readers are cautioned there are likely differences between respondents and non-respondents.