“Every year, the number of people who visit our beaches and the surrounding communities increases,” reports Jim Falk, director of the University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service (MAS) in Lewes, Delaware. “In addition to the burgeoning number of seasonal visitors, there has been an increase in the number of residents — an increase of almost 40% in Sussex County in the past decade alone.”
Why are so many people attracted to this area? What activities are they participating in? And how does this increasing population affect the coastal environment?
Falk will answer these and other questions on Thursday, August 23, at 7:00 p.m., at the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies in Lewes. His presentation, titled “Human Dimensions: The Science of People and Their Relationship to the Marine Environment,” is part of the Ocean Currents Lecture Series, which is held monthly at the Lewes campus through September.
In his presentation, Falk will summarize the results of over 20 years of conducting research on people’s values, attitudes, and beliefs concerning issues related to the coast — from boating on Delaware’s Inland Bays to Pfiesteria. Survey results have characterized people and their behavior and helped to provide a clearer understanding of the complex relationship between people and the marine environment.
He will also show how this information is important in developing new management policies. For example, a survey of recreational boaters identified locations in the bays where conflicts between boaters were most likely to occur. By knowing where these areas are located, Falk notes that resource managers can impose measures to control boating activity, post warnings, provide additional educational messages, and/or employ greater numbers of enforcement personnel to prevent conflicts and safety problems.
“Policies that maintain the economic growth of the area and still conserve and protect the environment are needed,” says Falk. “If the attitudes, opinions, and perceptions of people are considered when determining future courses of action, there is greater likelihood of achieving these goals.”
A resident of Rehoboth Beach, Falk has a master’s degree in recreation and resource development from Texas A & M University. He joined Delaware Sea Grant as a marine recreation and tourism specialist in 1978 and became its director in February 1999. Since 1992, he has focused his outreach efforts on proj-ects such as invasive species awareness, ecotourism, and boating and beach safety.
Falk serves on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee for the Center of the Inland Bays and is a board member of the Southern Delaware Tourism Commission. Throughout his career, he has been recognized by many organizations for his public service in areas ranging from boater education to beach safety. In 2000, he and colleagues received the Governor’s Tourism Award for their Environmental Guide to Boating in Delaware’s Inland Bays.
The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279.