The Last Fishermen: Identity, Risk, and Reproduction of Artisanal Fishers on the Utila Cays
AuthorSittler, Christopher E.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
AdvisorStoffle, Richard W.
MetadataShow full item record
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, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Utila Cays, west of the island of Utila within the Gulf of Honduras, has long been the home to a number of artisanal fishermen and their families since this island was settled by Cayman Islanders in the early 19th century. Rapidly changing oceans have led to decreased fish stocks globally, reducing the only historically consistent means of survival since the establishment of this community. Consequently, social pressures seek to end unsustainable fishing practices, but local conservation efforts—driven by the booming ecotourism industry of Utila—target these small-scale fisheries despite their marginal impact on marine ecosystems while adjacent fleet fishing operations, climate change, and pollution continue. Resulting mitigation strategies implemented by the community are focused on avoiding traditional fishing practices that constitute their collective identity, threatening many aspects of their life including their economy, diets, practices of learning, and communal reciprocity. However, in the midst of forced change, young members of the community are seeking to repurpose their traditional ecological knowledge in an attempt to carve occupational niches as tourist divers during this ontological crisis, reproducing themselves as wage laborers by transitioning their interactions with fish, from resources for extractions to subjects of spectating. These young community members face many challenges as their population remains geographically and socially excluded from ecotourist industries, which are largely left to the growing expatriate population. Through persistence, some individuals demonstrate their capacity to adapt to this adjacent vocation by utilizing their place-based fisherman knowledge to compete with local actors.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Latin American Studies