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The Impact of International Tourism on Community-Based Development in Baja California Sur, Mexico

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Doloutskaia, Sofia
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Globalisation, the Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Conf. Date: June 17-21, 2002
Date: 2002
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1402
Sector: Fisheries
New Commons
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: North America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
marine resources
resource management
community participation
Abstract: "According to Article 27 of the current Mexican Constitution, adopted in 1917, the federal government is the owner of the country's natural resources, both terrestrial and marine. Thus the legal responsibility to manage these resources lies primarily with the national government, not with the resource-using communities. Ever since their emergence in 1920s-1930s the fishing communities of the Baja California peninsula have been no exception to this general rule. Their use of marine resources has been contingent on the government-issued harvest permits, and the decisions about their future were made by federal officials in the far-away national capital (Simon, 1997b; Young, 1999a; Dedina, 2000). While it was intended to serve as a safeguard against both foreign encroachment on and domestic abuse of natural resources, this top-down management strategy ultimately proved unsuccessful: by the end of 1990s the majority of commercial fisheries in Baja California became overexploited (Young, 1999b; García-Martínez, 2000pc). In the case of sea turtles, commercial fishery has so depleted the populations that by the 1980s all the five species found in Mexican coastal waters became endangered. In 1990 the federal government declared a complete ban on sea turtle capture and harvest (DOF, 1990). However, this ban has proved ineffective, because it never had much legitimacy in the eyes of the local population. "Although their capacity for resistance and independent decision making have been quite limited, the coastal communities of Baja California have not passively accepted the marginal role in natural resource management, given to them by the federal government. During 1990s several fishing towns in the southern state of the peninsula, Baja California Sur (BCS), have attempted to increase their decision-making power by launching community-based conservation initiatives (Graber, 2001; STCNC, 2001). However, the potential of these initiatives to change the balance of power in favor of the resource-dependent communities is still unclear, for they emerged in communities that are very heterogeneous and have little or no organizational experience (Young, 1999a&b; Doloutskaia, 2001). In addition, the federal government has recently reasserted its authority by initiating 'Escalera Nautica' (Nautical Route), a tourism megaproject that will cover the entire Baja California peninsula with large hotels, golf courses, and marinas. The residents of local communities were not consulted when this decision was being taken, although it is likely to have a significant effect on them and on the ecosystems, on which their livelihoods have so far depended (Aridjis, 2001)."

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