The recognition of traditional marine tenure is an emerging issue in less developed countries globally. Coral reef resources are increasingly scarce due to increased pressure from local population growth, demand from the developed world for fish and increasing displacement of local people by coastal tourism.
Traditional marine tenure is strongly recognised in some parts of the tropics, for example; the Melanesian countries of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji; the Province of Papua and West Papua in Indonesia; northern Palawan in the Philippines and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Government policy often recognises rights entailed in traditional marine tenure, even though there are few explicit provisions in formal legal systems, including constitutions or legislation.
An objective of this research is to establish where traditional marine tenure exists and in what form. Where traditional marine tenure does exist, the next question is whether it is recognised by dive tourism operators. If it is, does recognition make any difference to the provision of livelihoods for local fishers and communities by dive operators?