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Coral reef fish and the aquarium trade: ecological impacts and socio-cultural influences in southern Sri Lanka

HOWARD, JAMES,ALEXANDER (2012) Coral reef fish and the aquarium trade: ecological impacts and socio-cultural influences in southern Sri Lanka. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The chronic degradation of coral reefs globally and its negative impact on coastal communities such as those in southern Sri Lanka dependent on the marine ornamental trade for their livelihood forms the focus of this study. Attempts to improve the conservation status of Sri Lanka's coral reefs and their associated fauna have failed because they omit to address the social circumstances of local people. Such social-ecological systems require an integrated approach, which provides holistic reasons for the degradation of natural ecosystems and livelihoods of coastal people. The aim of this study was therefore to ascertain the current sustainability of the marine ornamental trade in southern Sri Lanka through an interdisciplinary study employing a participatory bottom-up approach, and derive from findings alternative pathways to restore and maintain the health of the reef and thus provide better livelihoods for the fishing communities.

Findings confirm both the fragile state of nearshore coral reefs, their fish populations and the precarious nature of local communities’ livelihoods. Historical and recent environmental and anthropogenic impacts reduced resilience in all trade sectors and current fishing practices and the unjust supply chain compound these effects. Therefore, a holistic co-management framework is recommended that recognises local ecological knowledge and involves fishing communities as citizen scientists to improve monitoring and also provides communication channels to facilitate interaction within and across all groups of the ornamental trade. In this way, all actors are involved in making decisions and taking responsibility for the management of the supply chain at their particular level. This single, coherent framework would thus employ diverse groups and ways of doing as a resilience strategy to halt the degradation and reinvigorate the reef for more sustainable utilisation whilst simultaneously developing highly acceptable alternative income generating livelihoods, such as the community-based aquaculture experiment undertaken during this study.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:aquarium, co-management, coral reefs, interdisciplinary, local ecological knowledge, marine ornamental trade, resilience, small-scale fisheries, social-ecological systems, sri lanka
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Faculty of Science > Biological and Biomedical Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Apr 2013 11:52

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