Paying the price to solve fisheries conflicts in Brazil's Marine Protected Areas
Ecosystems services (ES) provide food and recreation to humans, but are fast being degraded. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been proposed as a way to protect some of these ES, but decisions regarding what gets protection and what gets consumed can be a source of conflicts. One such example is the Fernando de Noronha MPA (Brazil), where there is a conflict between shark-directed tourism and fishers who would like to access the no-take part of the MPA during part of the year. A contingent valuation method (Willingness to Pay) was used to ascertain if tourists would accept compensating fishers for not disturbing the sharks during a specific period of the year, by adding a symbolic increase in the taxes they already pay to either visit the island or to visit the no-take part of the MPA. Tourists were open to this alternative (67–71%), regardless of the fee being paid. However, there was a slight tendency to reject the fee when the tourists saw sharks during their stay, suggesting that a closer contact with these animals triggered a less sympathetic attitude towards fishers, probably because they start seeing fishers as wrongdoers, even if this is the worst choice for conservation. Although such a hypothetical payment was easily accepted by the majority of the tourists and could represent an affordable solution to conflicts, convincing those who reject such social compensation, especially if based on an irrational choice, would be an important step for sharks and for the MPA as a whole.