Regulation of Environmental Impact from Marine Tourist Activities. A Minor Field Study in Mombasa and Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Parks and Reserves, Kenya
Mombasa and Kisite Mpunguti marine national parks and reserves (hereinafter ‘Mombasa MNPR’ and ‘Kisite Mpunguti MNPR’) consist of biodiversity rich ecosystems such as coral reefs and sea grass beds, with high ecological and economical value. Marine tourist activities taking place within these areas are connected with a risk of harming the marine environment. Mombasa MNPR and Kisite Mpunguti MNPR have the objectives of conserving marine biodiversity as well as supporting tourism. In order to properly integrate these objectives, it is important that marine tourist activities are adequately regulated. The purpose of this study is to investigate how marine tourist activities, directly influencing the marine environment in Kisite Mpunguti MNPR and Mombasa MNPR, are regulated. An investigation is made of environmental requirements, in legal rules as well as more informal norms (e.g. codes of conduct), and how these requirements are enforced. A legal investigation has been performed through a judicial dogmatic methodology and empirical findings have been collected through semi-structured interviews during a minor field study in Kenya. The findings of the study illustrate the roles of environmental requirements in legal rules as well as more informal norms in regulating marine tourist activities in Mombasa MNPR and Kisite Mpunguti MNPR. Legal environmental requirements that tourists and tourist activity organizers must comply with during marine tourist activities are primarily identified in provisions prescribing offences under the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Act and the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act, 1999. Other legal environmental requirements could also have a role in regulating marine tourist activities, but this appears unclear. It might for example be possible to prescribe legal environmental requirements in licenses or permissions, but it seems uncertain whether this is done in practice. Furthermore, the findings show that it is mainly Kenya Wildlife Service (hereinafter ‘KWS’), of the studied government agencies, that enforces legal environmental requirements in relation to marine tourist activities taking place in Mombasa MNPR and Kisite Mpunguti MNPR. The enforcement is primarily performed through supervision, education, collaboration with tourist activity organizers, warnings and suspension. KWS appears to enforce environmental requirements in legal rules as well as more informal norms. Some of these environmental requirements are applied by KWS in Mombasa MNPR as well as Kisite Mpunguti MNPR, meanwhile other requirements differ between the areas. The findings also show that, in Mombasa MNPR, environmental requirements in norms of tourist activity organizers have a role in regulating marine tourist activities. Tourist activity organizers as well as KWS seem involved in enforcing these environmental requirements. Finally, the findings illustrate that environmental requirements in different types of norms (legal rules and more informal norms) seem to interact in the regulation of marine tourist activities in Mombasa MNPR and Kisite Mpunguti MNPR.