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The marine protected area of Portofino, Italy: a difficult balance

TitleThe marine protected area of Portofino, Italy: a difficult balance
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsSalmona P, Verardi D
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Keywordsawareness, benefit, biodiversity, boating, communication, concertation, conflict, economy, ecosystem, education, environment, history, human impact, impact, Italy, Ligurian Sea, management, marine protected area, Mediterranean sea, Portofino, protected area, stakeholders, tourism, western Mediterranean

The Portofino promontory extends for 13km along the northwestern Italian coast. This peninsula has a rough coastline, steep seabed, and high indices of biodiversity, both in its terrestrial and marine ecosystems. In 1935, a terrestrial protected area was established, preventing the intense urban development and mass tourism that characterises nearby areas today. Presently, the economies of the small towns in the area are based on elite tourism and recreational boating. Based on an analysis of the uses of the area and their impacts on the coastal ecosystems, we suggest that the present activities significantly degrade the area's environment. In 1998, the national government created a marine protected area surrounding the peninsula. Some local authorities and many stakeholders from the nearby communities opposed the designation, fearing a decrease in tourism and stricter control over recreational activities. Two potential alternatives exist for the area: (a) maintaining a traditional system with short-term economic benefits; or (b) choosing an innovative, environmentally sound system of management providing intermediate and long-term economic and environmental benefits.


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