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Fish, fishing, diving and the management of coral reefs


This dissertation is a multi-disciplinary attempt to understand how coral reef resources can be sustainably managed. I begin by examining the peer-reviewed literature on artisanal reef fisheries, identifying gaps in knowledge, and proposing a set of priority areas for future research. Ecological examinations of trap fishing and gill nets follow. Fish trap bycatch can be dramatically reduced by the inclusion of escape gaps that allow juveniles and narrow-bodied species to escape, although catch of ecologically important herbivores remains high. Gill nets capture the few remaining apex predators present on Caribbean coral reefs, and as such are unsustainable. The second half of the dissertation is a tripartite presentation of the results of interviews with 177 fishers and 211 professional SCUBA divers on Curaçao and Bonaire. First, I consider whether interviewees' baseline conception of a healthy reef ecosystem is actually a degraded state, and they have a "shifting baseline." Then, I evaluate interviewees' discount rates and present bias, and relate those measures to their preferred management approaches. Lastly, I contemplate how to reconcile ecosystem requirements with stakeholder preferences, and use socioeconomic information to develop a sustainable management plan

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