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Fishing and Environmental Regulation in the Caribbean: Acts of Freedom and Control in a Jamaican Coastal Town

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Many of those concerned with the protection of the coastal waters in the Caribbean advocate the idea of alternative livelihoods: fishers would be offered livelihoods in tourism to replace the fishing that a marine protected area would curtail. Such livelihoods would provide a secure income linked to the tourism that a protected area would generate, turning fishers into supporters of environmental protection. The idea of alternative livelihoods assumes that livelihoods are reducible to the money that they bring in. This paper investigates the adequacy of this assumption among fishers in Port Antonio, a town on the north-east coast of Jamaica, and with reference to the values of reputation and respectability, important throughout the Caribbean. The assumption contained in the idea of alternative livelihoods does not apply to those fishers, because their fishing is not an economic activity reducible to income. Instead, fishers value economic activities and relationships very different from what they would confront in jobs in tourism.
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Keywords: Jamaica; Livelihoods; environment; fishing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent scholar, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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