The Dependency of People on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Understanding how people are dependent on Large Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs) is important for understanding how people might be sensitive to changes that affect these seascapes. We review how resource dependency is conceptualized and propose that it be broadened to include cultural values such as pride in resource status, scientific heritage, appreciation of aesthetics, biodiversity, and lifestyle opportunities. We provide an overview of how local residents (n = 3,181 face-to-face surveys), commercial fishers (n = 210, telephone surveys), and tourism operators (n = 119 telephone surveys) are potentially dependent on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), a region currently experiencing significant environmental, social, and economic change. We found that commercial fishers and tourism operators were dependent not only financially on the GBR, but also because of their age, years in the industry and region, lack of education, and the number of dependents. These stakeholders lacked flexibility to secure alternative employment. All stakeholder groups, regardless of economic imperatives, were dependent on the GBR because of their cultural connections. We propose that resource dependency also provides an umbrella concept to describe the cultural services provided by an ecosystem, which can be described through place-based dependence and place-identity.