Towards New Perspectives in Integrated Coastal Management: Prospects for Responding to Changes Affecting Coastal Area Tourism Systems
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During the last three decades, coastal management scholarship and practice have been shaped by both social and ecological drivers of change that have served to define different epochs during which the coast has been conceptualized and characterized as; a frontier transition zone, value-laden economic entity, a conservation area and a governance jurisdiction. In line with past conceptualizations, recent shifts in coastal management scholarship define the coast as a social-ecological system (SES) that reflects the linkages between terrestrial and marine subsystems and connections between these subsystems and littoral interests (e.g., interests in tourism, environmental conservation and fisheries). SES perspectives in coastal management highlight the nature and scope of the current and future cumulative impacts from climate and non-climate drivers of change on coastal social and ecological systems. SES perspectives also highlight new approaches for thinking about integration and for advancing integrated coastal management (ICM) research and practice. While current coastal management scholarship acknowledges the value of integration as an underlying core principle. Coastal management scholars also accept that integration has not fulfilled its former promise and that it has been understudied. This claim is evident in the way ICM has been used to frame and analyze the impacts of climate and non-climate drivers of change on coastal social and ecological systems. In an effort to contribute to filling this research gap, in this study, I use the core principle of integration and three surrogate principles (comprehensiveness, harmonization and cooperation and participation), to conceptualize and examine the impacts of coastal water quality decline on coastal SES and the potential for integrated governance responses in coastal water quality management. This research is based on a case study of a marine protected area (the Buccoo Reef Protected Area, BRPA) and surrounding coastal villages in southwest Tobago. Tobago is the smaller of the two islands in the republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The island has a peripheral coastal tourism economy. Coral reefs are an important component of this economy. However, recently coral reefs have been affected by climatic changes, e.g., rising sea surface temperature (RSST) and land-based pollutants that affect coastal water quality. In southwest Tobago, management of coastal water quality occurs within a multi-sector and national and subnational coastal management setting. Within this setting, coastal water quality decline has been managed using both single-sector approaches and collaborative approaches. Given these contexts, the aim of this research is to illustrate how trajectories of change related to coastal water quality decline affect coastal systems and coastal tourism and how such trajectories highlight challenges and opportunities for ICM. Additionally, I aim to understand how trajectories of change shape multiple-sector responses to declines in coastal water quality, within a national and subnational coastal management jurisdiction. Firstly, I use the comprehensiveness principle and SES as a lens to frame the coastal system as a Coastal Area Tourism System (CATS). I then demonstrate how trajectories of change related to climate and non-climate drivers, e.g., rising sea surface temperature (RSST), or weak regulations that allow effluent discharge from hotels to enter coastal waters, result in declines in coastal water quality, secondary effects on contiguous marine systems such as coral reefs and feedback to tourism activities such as diving. Secondly, based on the principle of harmonization, I demonstrate the challenges and opportunities for integrating coastal water quality management within a sector-based and a dual-level coastal management jurisdiction. I use a typology of fragmentation as a lens, to frame and examine how conflicting, synergistic and cooperative linkages between the coastal management arrangements of three sectors (tourism, fisheries and environmental protection) shape responses to coastal water quality decline. Here, I demonstrate how the inevitability of fragmentation found in sector-based coastal management arrangements limits harmonization. However, I also show how within sector-based coastal management opportunities exist that could serve to speed up management responses to coastal water quality decline. Thirdly, premised on the principle of cooperation and participation, I demonstrate how water quality decline shapes collaborative responses in integrated coastal water quality management, across agents and sectors with diverse institutional mandates. Here, drawing mostly from the literature in public administration, I frame and examine responses to coastal water quality decline, within an integrated collaborative coastal management framework. The approach used in this research yielded several key findings: (1) water quality decline follows causal pathways, and trajectories of change and create effects across biological and physical coastal systems. For example, changes in water quality within the BRPA have resulted in declines in coral reefs. Relatedly, declines in coral reefs have been linked to rapid erosion. Because of knowledge gaps about the linkages between these features, responses to coral decline have not focused on mitigating the loss of coral cover. Rather, responses have focused on replacing the aesthetics of coral reefs, (2) mechanisms such as Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) and Certificates of Environmental Clearance (CECs) play a significant role in coordinating current sector-based management approaches in issue areas related to land use and pollution control that have impacted coastal water quality. This shows that sector-based mandates that are loosely connected can be integrated based on mechanisms such as CECs and (3) in some instances, particularly for short-term coastal management projects, existing institutional arrangements and co-leadership within the same sector or across scales, serve to coordinate decision-making regarding coastal water quality declines without major conflicts.
Cite this work
Alvin Thompson (2016). Towards New Perspectives in Integrated Coastal Management: Prospects for Responding to Changes Affecting Coastal Area Tourism Systems. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11029