SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL CHANGE AND MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: INSIGHTS FROM THE RÍA LAGARTOS BIOSPHERE RESERVE, MEXICO
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This research examined social-ecological regime shifts (SERSs), and their relation to the governance and human dimensions of marine protected areas (MPAs). Characterized by their rapid and long-term onset, SERSs pose a major challenge for managers of coastal and marine resources. The world’s oceans are being overexploited at an unprecedented rate, resulting in what many experts are referring to as a maritime “tragedy of the commons,” steered by large-scale drivers such as overfishing and climate change. These drivers of change result in localized, regional and global impacts on both marine biodiversity and human wellbeing. Abrupt social and environmental changes can be constituted as SERSs, or disruptions of social-ecological system structure that can potentially have enduring and detrimental influence on ecological health and the social stability of coastal communities. The establishment of MPAs as a management tool can be used in coastal nations around the world, including Mexico, to avoid or mitigate the impacts of SERSs in a coastal and marine context. MPAs strive to safeguard flora and fauna by restricting certain exploitative activities in a given area of the marine environment or land-sea interface. Previous research indicates that MPAs governed with the integration and inclusion of local community perceptions, as opposed to conventional state-led approaches, have been particularly effective. This study focused on the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, an MPA located in the southern Mexican state of Yucatán, where overexploitation driven by Asian market demand of the local sea cucumber fishery and the emerging tourism industry have brought an influx of social-ecological changes to the region. The research objectives included: 1) establishing a thorough understanding of the environmental and social changes occurring in the region, 2) studying local perceptions of the MPA and how they relate to the changes and community wellbeing, and 3) determining if community involvement in the MPA can enhance its governance to withstand change and improve wellbeing. It followed a largely qualitative and inductive methodology, using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and a survey as its data collection methods. The results indicated that local perceptions can provide valuable insights to strengthen MPA governance, better community-government relations, bolster community wellbeing and improve responses to social-ecological change. The co-management approach is found to be the way forward for MPA governance.
Cite this version of the work
Hameet Singh (2019). SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL CHANGE AND MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: INSIGHTS FROM THE RÍA LAGARTOS BIOSPHERE RESERVE, MEXICO. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14982
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