Whale Conservation in Coastal Ecuador - Environmentalism of the Poor or Neoliberal Conservation?
politicas de conservacion
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AbstractIn this paper, I examine the interaction between transnational activist networks, conservation scientists, government authorities, and artisanal fishing communities in coastal Ecuador. Focusing on the problem of cetacean bycatch, I employ the concept of the “discourse of nature” to identify contrasting languages of valuation used by the stakeholders for marine coastal environments. NGOs utilize a scientific evaluation to portray artisanal fishing as a hazard to the survival of humpback whales, but this coincides with the attempt by government and development agencies to portray artisanal fisheries as inefficient and ecologically harmful. In contrast, a survey I carried out in a coastal fishing community shows that local residents contest this portrayal of fishing as ecologically harmful, drawing upon their discourses of livelihood, indigenous identity, territorial claims, and social marginality. Focusing on the social conflict surrounding the marine protected area [MPA] of Machalilla National Park, I argue that additional restrictions on fishing to mitigate the incidence of cetacean bycatch will not have adequate social acceptance by local artisan fishing communities. Hence, the language of whale conservation which appears to be a pro-poor environmentalism at the macro (international) level, appears to local actors as a threat to their livelihoods. To offset this micro/macro discrepancy, whale conservation NGOs should support local aspirations to continue fishing as a livelihood, thereby restoring whale conservation to the status of “environmentalism of the poor”.
이베로아메리카 연구, v.25, no.2, pp.1 - 33