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Cummins, V., Gault, J., OâMahony, C., Köpke, K., Griffin, P., Walsh, E., OâSuilleabhain, D.. Establishing Information Needs for Planning and Assessment of Recreation Activity in the Coastal Environment: A Case Study from Cork Harbour, Ireland.. 2008 - Proceedings of the International Pluridisciplinary Conference - The Littoral: Challenge, Dialogue, Action. 16th-18th January, Lille, France.


The coastal and marine based leisure sector is experiencing growth in many areas of Europe. In Ireland, this growth is, in part, driven by a recent period of economic prosperity, and facilitated by the expansion of infrastructure to accommodate and maintain current growth in coastal and marine recreation, as well as attract future use. In particular, the recreational activities of boating and sailing have experienced considerable growth over the last decade. Similar to other human activities, marine leisure and recreation can have a positive influence, bringing benefits to coastal locations and communities. However, in the absence of appropriate planning and management, recreational activities can be a catalyst for environmental degradation, negative user interactions and deterioration in the quality of life for members of coastal communities. A sound planning and management framework, founded on best available scientific understanding and the principles of sustainable development, is imperative to ensuring that impacts associated with marine recreation accrue socio-economic and environmental benefits to coastal communities. Elements of such a framework include: a clear understanding of the environment’s capacity to absorb current and increased rates of recreational activity; the interactions amongst recreational users and with other users of the coastal environment; and development of scenarios to inform future planning requirements.

Cork Harbour, situated on the southern coast of Ireland, is one of the largest coastal water bodies in Ireland. Cork Harbour is analogous with many other coastal locations in that it is a multi-resource and multi-use environment. Coastal and marine based recreation is one of the primary human uses of Cork Harbour; the harbour area is considered a regionally important location for boating and sailing and hosts international events. Through a collaborative research initiative – Coastal Research and Policy Integration (COREPOINT) - involving local authority planners and research scientists, efforts were made to improve understanding of the current levels of recreational activity, and the planning and management implications associated with any increase from current levels. The assessment involved quantitative and qualitative survey methods to identify data gaps in terms of: baseline information; user attitudes and perceptions towards existing management framework and facilities for recreation; interactions between different user groups; spatial distribution of recreational activities; and, institutional and administrative short comings. The results of the assessment provide an improved understanding of the current coastal recreational situation and have value as input to local area planning and a potential integrated management plan for Cork Harbour.

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