Stressors to marine environments are predicted to increase and affect the well-being of marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one most widely implemented interventions for marine stressors. Despite the implementation of thousands of protected areas worldwide, people are still striving to understand their dynamics as they vary in their efficacy and many MPAs have not met their objectives. Additionally, those that have often fail to protect the ecosystem services and cultural values necessary for human community health. Thus, research has expanded to include analyses of the human and social dimensions that may limit their effectiveness. This dissertation explores the role of community engagement in marine protected areas and perceptions of environmental changes in coastal communities. Currently, existing research on the roles of community engagement in marine conservation interventions is limited, particularly in the island-states of the Caribbean region. This dissertation contains a review of the literature to understand the nuances of community engagement in relation to MPAs. Through the review, it was determined that primary forms of engagement are interviews and surveys, and respondents primarily included businesses, community members, fishers, and resource users. To better understand the perceptions and practices on-the-ground, key informants were interviewed across the Caribbean. There are strong desires to conduct community engagement for innumerable benefits, but there are barriers that some participants have overcome. Sharing information between MPA sites offers an opportunity to effectively engage community members. For the local case study, Charlotteville, Trinidad and Tobago, a small, coastal fishing town in the northeast region of Tobago was selected to understand the role of perceptions of environmental changes. There were strong ties of environmental and social changes, with an emphasis on the impacts of environmental stressors to human health. The heterogeneity and diversity of responses in this chapter highlight the need to consider who is engaged in community engagement activities.
- Community engagement and perceptions in marine conservation in the Caribbean
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