Better Together: Partnership Building in a Brazilian Coastal Protected Area

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"The Peixe Lagoon National Park was created in 1986 in an area of high environmental significance for the reproduction and feeding of several species of endemic and migratory birds. The implementation of this protected area has been jeopardized due to conflicts between the local population and the federal environmental agency responsible for managing it - the recently created Instituto Chico Mendes. The present research was done to explore the advantages and barriers of including the local traditional fishers in the management and conservation of the protected area and its resources. Participant observation, semi- structured interviews and focus group interviews were the methods used for data gathering during four months in 2007. In that period 36 traditional local fishers and 10 officials from organizations with some stake in the National Park were interviewed. Currently 166 traditional fishers have a temporary license to fish inside the protected area. Despite the growing recognition in Brazil of the rights of traditional communities and the role for resource management, the environmental agency continues pressing them to leave the National Park. The creation of a partnership which integrates environmental conservation and sustainable livelihood maintenance could be the solution for current environmental and social issues. Despite numerous barriers for the implementation of a participatory approach, there exist considerable benefits to be gained through the inclusion of the local fisher communities in protected area management."
coastal resources, indigenous knowledge, governance and politics, conflict, parks, protected areas, fisheries, IASC