Drying sea cucumbers for a small family income

Livelihoods are a way of earning income to put food on the table for the family and to provide income to support the families basic needs. Local fishers and communities living along the coral reefs of the tropics often live on very remote coasts and islands where agriculture and keeping livestock is either not possible, or very limited. Jobs or other ways of earning a living are often not available either. Fishing communities often have very few or no livelihood alternatives. Fish and coral reef resources provide the bulk of their family protein and they rely on coral reef resources for food and income security. This is why coral reefs and fisheries cannot be managed sustainably without first understanding and meeting the needs of local fishers and their families for food security and income.

Providing livelihoods from dive tourism is one way of diversifying the livelihoods of local fishers and communities, to reduce their reliance on coral reefs.  Some dive operators recognise the traditional marine tenure of local fishers and communities and choose to compensate them for not fishing when they limit access to coral reefs by creating house reefs and no-take zones around dive sites.

There are four types of livelihoods that are generally provided by dive operators;

  1. payments coastal leases, dive user fees  and payments for not fishing
  2. payments for goods and services
  3. training and employment
  4. community benefit programs

Some types of livelihoods are provided directly to fishers and others to communities.  This research asks dive operators whether they provide livelihoods to fishers and communities and investigated the relationships between traditional marine tenure and the provision of livelihoods and whether providing livelihoods has any effect on decreasing destructive fishing around dive stites.


A fisher with his wife and daughters outside their home in a water village in Raja Ampat


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