Action: Start educational programmes for personal watercraft owners
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A before-and-after trial in the USA found that rates of disturbance by personal watercraft decreased and reproductive success of common terns Sterna hirundo increased following a series of educational programmes aimed at recreational boat users.
It is possible that people will respond more positively to access restrictions or signs warning them of disturbing birds if they are more aware of the issue. Educational programmes may be able to help with this, informing the public of why certain actions are being taken. More general education programmes are discussed in ‘Use education programmes and local engagement to help reduce pressures on species’.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after trial from July-August in 1997-8 in the waterways surrounding a common tern Sterna hirundo nesting island in Barnegat Bay, USA (Burger & Leonard 2000), found that disturbance and reproductive costs caused by personal watercraft (PWC) disturbance significantly decreased after the implementation of educational campaigns in late 1997. The proportion of PWCs moving past the nesting island decreased from 60% in 1997 to 30% in 1998 and PWCs moved at significantly slower speeds. No PWCs went all the way around the nesting island in 1998. The number of terns displaced by PWCs significantly declined (from an average of 40 birds flying over the nesting island in 1997 to 20 birds in 1998). Fledging rate in 1998 was almost 1 chick/nest, similar to before PWC influx (pre-1996). The educational campaign was aimed at local PWC rental businesses and owners and signs were posted around tern nesting islands.