The role of livelihoods in collective engagement in sustainable integrated coastal management: Oslob Whale Sharks
Lowe, J & Tejada, JFC in press, 'The role of livelihoods in collective engagement in sustainable integrated coastal management: Oslob Whale Sharks', Ocean and Coastal Management.
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Livelihoods are a crucial factor in sustainable integrated coastal management and can bring big payoffs for people and coral reef resources but their role in encouraging collective engagement in management is not well understood. Dive tourism is often cited for its capacity to provide livelihoods to reduce reliance on coral reef resources, however, there is little evidence of its ability to achieve this goal. We use key stakeholder interviews with artisanal fishers, their community, local government and politicians and the sustainable livelihoods framework to study Oslob Whale Sharks, the most financially successful and controversial community based dive tourism site in the world. Oslob Whale Sharks has generated income from ticket sales of approximately US$18.4 m over five years. We found that Oslob Whale Sharks has created alternate livelihoods for 177 fishers, and diversified livelihoods throughout the community, reducing fishing effort and changing livelihood strategies away from reliance on coral reef resources. Livelihoods from Oslob Whale Sharks increase food security for fishers and their families and improve the wellbeing of their community. Livelihoods have galvanised fishers and their community to change behaviourand collectively engage in management. Our findings indicate connection between livelihoods and the provision of finance to protect whale sharks and manage five marine reserves, indicating that fishers and local government are protecting the whale sharks and coral ref resources their livelihoods depend on.