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Jamaica bound? Marine resources and management at a crossroads in Antigua and Barbuda

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Antigua and Barbuda is rapidly developing a tourism industry built around a marketed perception of a healthy marine and coastal environment. Yet economic indicators suggest that Antigua and Barbuda is overexploiting its marine resources, particularly its fish and coral reef communities. Although its marine resources remain relatively healthy, Antigua and Barbuda will jeopardise the ecological basis of its economic growth and sustainability if current exploitation rates continue. We compare the current situation and economic trends of Antigua and Barbuda's tourism and commercial fishery industries to those of Jamaica and other OECS member states. Jamaica is suggested as a cautionary example of the potential socioeconomic and ecological impacts caused by resource overexploitation and mismanagement within the various economic sectors. Antigua and Barbuda is at a crossroads. The ‘Jamaica path’ leads to large-scale resource depletion, fishery collapse, and a mass tourism industry that can operate independent of a healthy environment. Alternatively, it can pursue a path that seeks to conserve its marine resources. Antigua and Barbuda will be better able to protect its sustainability both for commercial fishing interests and its growing high-end destination tourism industry. To this end, Antigua and Barbuda has developed a network of marine-protected areas along the northeastern coast of Antigua, an area popular with both fishers and tourists.
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Keywords: Antigua and Barbuda; Jamaica; Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; commercial fisheries; marine protected areas; tourism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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