Natural resources are crucial but dependent components of much larger socioecological systems. In order to manage a natural resource in a manner that emphasizes both the social and environmental health of the system, it is important to fully understand who the resource users are, how the resource is being used, and the natural system of which it is part. The goal of this research was to increase understanding of spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) in The Bahamas, and the implications of artificial habitat use in the Bahamian spiny lobster fishery.
Although it is widely acknowledged in The Bahamas that lobster condos, artificial habitats designed to encourage aggregations of lobster, are the predominant collection method for commercial fishermen, there has not been a study focusing on how or why local fishermen are using these artificial habitats. Through informal interviews and semi-structured surveys, I examined the use of condos by Bahamian lobster fishermen, including the number of condos fishermen set, how heavily fishermen rely on them for lobster harvest, and how the `open access' nature of the habitats influences these decisions. Although collection from the condos of other fishermen is legal under the current system, there are a range of opinions about whether or not doing so is socially correct. This has resulted in wide-scale condo-based conflict between fishermen in the Bahamian spiny lobster fishery, which has important cultural and policy implications.
The impact of lobster condos on the marine system, the lobster population, and other marine species has also not been fully investigated. While previous research has indicated that lobster condos can provide additional shelter for juvenile lobster, it is unknown if this actually leads to an increase in the adult lobster population. I conducted underwater surveys of both artificial and natural habitats to investigate what factors influenced when lobster and other marine species were present at condos, and potential impacts of lobster condos on the natural system. Due to the prolific setting of condos throughout The Bahamas by commercial fishermen, the results of this research have important ecological and economic implications and should be used to determine appropriate regulations for the lobster fishery.
|Advisor:||Sanchirico, James N.|
|Commitee:||Lubell, Mark N., Mumby, Peter J.|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Environmental management, Environmental science|
|Keywords:||Bahamas, Conflict, Institutions, Natural resource management, Panulirus argus|
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