Ecosystem Services and Social Wellbeing Linkages: The Impact of a Marine Protected Area in Bluefields, Jamaica
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This thesis examines the linkages between ecosystem services (ES) and social wellbeing (SW) for a small-scale fishing community, and analyzes how these linkages have changed in relation to the implementation of a marine protected area (MPA). The case study for this research is Bluefields, a community in Westmoreland Parish, Jamaica. The Bluefields Bay Special Fishery Conservation Area (BBSFCA) is a no-take MPA that was established in the community in 2009 to promote the recovery of declining fish stocks. This MPA has a direct social and ecological impact on approximately ten adjacent communities and 400 small-scale fishers in Bluefields Bay. The following four objectives guide this research: 1) to identify the ecosystem service bundles (i.e., interconnected ES) that are valued by different community groups (e.g., inshore fishers, offshore fishers, non-fishers); 2) to define how the MPA has changed access to ES bundles for these different groups; 3) to examine how changes in access to these bundles have affected social wellbeing; and 4) to apply understanding of ES and SW to enhance the governance of MPAs (e.g., siting, design, management). This research uses a qualitative case study based mixed-methods approach. Research began with the review of primary and secondary literature. Subsequent fieldwork components included: 1) participant observation; 2) 42 semi-structured interviews (n=59 people); 3) six focus groups (n=44 people); and 4) 77 structured questionnaires (n=77 people). Major findings from this research indicate that, first, both fishers and non-fishers emphasized the importance of provisioning (e.g., fish, lobster) and cultural ecosystem services (e.g., cultural heritage, knowledge systems), and their bundled qualities (e.g., fish as food, livelihood, and cultural celebration). Fishers also noted interconnections between provisioning and supporting ecosystem services (e.g., water cycling, biodiversity)—particularly the bundling of fish with habitat and refugia (e.g., fish stocks increase when habitats are healthy and accessible). Second, inshore fishers, in comparison to offshore fishers and non-fishers, are the most impacted by the implementation of the MPA. Furthermore, inshore fishers have become the most marginalized in governance processes, despite experiencing the greatest negative change to ecosystem service access and social wellbeing. Third, co-management (i.e., collaboration between state and local actors) may be the most appropriate mode of governance for the BBSFCA. However, there are several challenges preventing effective co-management in Bluefields, including: 1) disagreement over management objectives (e.g., managing to enhance provisioning ES, versus managing to maintain cultural ES access); 2) a lack of opportunity for meaningful participation (e.g., issues surrounding trust and advocacy); and 3) the need to strengthen social networks (e.g., increase relational wellbeing between core actors and marginalized groups). Current management objectives of the MPA are misaligned with the needs of marginalized groups, thereby indicating a tradeoff between conservation and wellbeing. This tradeoff is a source of conflict that inhibits capacity building and weakens local fisher institutions—in turn, inhibiting governance of the MPA. Ultimately, this thesis contributes to resolving tensions between small-scale fishing communities and conservation initiatives. Findings on ecosystem services and social wellbeing support the need to treat coastal-marine systems as multi-faceted, with rich social and cultural dimensions. To enhance compliance and legitimacy of conservation efforts in small-scale fishing communities, this research advocates for coastal-marine governance that acknowledges and reflects these intangible dimensions.
Cite this work
Cheryl Chan (2017). Ecosystem Services and Social Wellbeing Linkages: The Impact of a Marine Protected Area in Bluefields, Jamaica. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12005