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Social Factors Affecting Sustainable Shark Conservation and Management in Belize

Author

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  • Stephanie M. Sabbagh

    (Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Montréal, QC H3A 0G4, Canada)

  • Gordon M. Hickey

    (Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Montréal, QC H3A 0G4, Canada)

Abstract

Predatory sharks contribute to healthy coral reef ecosystems; however their populations are declining. This paper explores some of the important social factors affecting shark conservation outcomes in Belize through a qualitative analysis of the shark-related activities, attitudes and perceptions among local stakeholders and their perceived relative ability to influence shark conservation policies. Drawing on key informant interviews and focus groups, respondents suggested that considerable demand for shark meat originates from markets in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, especially during Lent, driving larger-scale shark fishing operations within Belize waters. Different stakeholders reported a wide range of uses for shark products, and reported diverging perceptions concerning the status and value of shark populations in Belize, with conflicting attitudes towards their conservation. Such conflicting perceptions among stakeholders can pose a serious challenge to sustainable shark conservation and management, and ultimately undermine collaborative governance objectives. Belize shark conservation issues likely need to be addressed at the scale of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, perhaps by taking a transboundary approach that better accounts for the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders from Belize, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephanie M. Sabbagh & Gordon M. Hickey, 2019. "Social Factors Affecting Sustainable Shark Conservation and Management in Belize," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(1), pages 1-19, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:12:y:2019:i:1:p:40-:d:299594
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    References listed on IDEAS

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