"What's exciting about work in the Philippines is that conservation can be successful if people don't see it as being forced on them. They need to have the sense they are in the driver's seat," he says.
Christie says social dynamics determine the success of ocean conservation. In his study in the Philippines, more than 500 people were asked such things as the number of community meetings they'd attended on conservation areas, how on a scale of one-to-five they thought their opinion mattered, if someone from their community was on the governance committee overseeing the area and if they felt their community's mayor listened to them.
Then there were measurements of biological changes once conservation areas were established to see, for example if fish numbers were up or corals were healthier. Residents also were asked if they felt catches had increased and if they felt there were more or less fish.
One important finding was that participatory planning and leadership at the mayoral level was key to dealing with the illegal fishing that troubles so many members of the communities making sacrifices in conservation areas. Unlike in the United States, there is no Coast Guard to enforce rules and no courts to turn to for relief, so collaboration between localities becomes very important.
Fostering collaboration, perhaps by helping train community leaders, and focusing on other factors concerning governance and social conditions is as important to the success of conservation areas as using the right biological and ecological parameters, Christie says.
|Contact: Sandra Hines|
University of Washington