Angling for Inclusion: Marine Conservation, Livelihoods, Local Knowledge, and Tourism on Utila, Honduras
AuthorDavis, Brittany Y.
Local environmental knowledge
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractOver the past two decades, developing countries have recognized the economic value of attractive marine resources and the need to actively protect these resources. Many of these conservation projects rely on limiting extractive activities to protect habitats, which restricts local livelihoods, and promoting marine resource-based tourism to provide financing for conservation. Using a political ecology framework, this dissertation investigates two connected aspects of tourism and conservation: tourists' seafood consumption and the Go Blue Central America, a geotourism project initiated by National Geographic. It also explains the value of considering the local environmental knowledge of a diverse group of resource users, with a specific focus on professional scuba divers. Given the importance of scuba diving as an activity and tourism attractor on Utila, professional scuba divers on the island are well-positioned to serve as a source of environmental knowledge data on Utila's dive sites, including on their condition, species sightings, and changes over time. This knowledge is not without its problems as it may lead to conceptions of local participation that fail to include those actually from the community of concern. Thus, this dissertation calls attention to the possibilities of using divers' environmental knowledge in conservation and environmental management while also remaining attuned to the potential complications that may arise from doing so. Ultimately, this dissertation calls for the development of additional tourism alternatives and more comprehensive tourism planning and management which includes the potential for damage done by nonextractive resource users. For Utila, this will entail altering existing business practices to increase local ownership, shifting away from backpacker and budget oriented tourism toward a more expensive product, and involving more of the local community in the decision-making processes which affect tourism and the environment.
Degree ProgramGraduate College