why are local fishers important to coral reefs?
Local fishers and their communities live in poverty on the fringing coral reefs of the tropics, relying on coral reefs and marine resources for food and income security. Their direct reliance on coral reefs makes the future of coral reefs and local fishers is inseparable.
Coral reefs and marine resources are under threat from industrialised over fishing, climate change and pollution. Of these, overfishing is the most pressing threat. In competition for scarce resources, local fishers resort to destructive fishing and overfishing, intensifying pressure on coral reefs, with devastating effect.
Diversifying the livelihoods of local fishers and communities away from reliance on coral reefs is essential for the sustainable conservation of coral reefs. When we talk about diversifying the livelihoods of local fishers, we recognise that in general terms, fishers will always fish. The objective is to diversify a fisher’s income sources so that fishing is not the only way to put food on the table and earn income to pay family expenses.
This research examines the presumption that if fishers and their communities earn livelihoods from dive tourism, the effect will be to reduce destructive fishing and overfishing and provide an incentive to conserve coral reefs and marine resources.