Conflicts and solutions related to marine turtle conservation initiatives in the Caribbean basin: Identifying new challenges
Conflicts among and between local, national, regional and international stakeholders involved in marine turtle conservation are increasing. Often, they arise because of different socio-economic backgrounds of the people or groups involved. Here, we identified and assessed the conservation-based conflicts occurring in 24 of the 39 Caribbean countries, including their frequency, level of severity, number of stakeholders' groups involved, the degree to which they hinder conservation goals, and potential solutions. Using a cross-sectional social survey, we evaluated the presence and details of conservation conflicts provided by 72 respondents. The respondents included conservation-based project leaders, researchers, people involved in policy-based decision-making, conservation volunteers (community-based conservation groups), and species experts with experience working on marine turtle conservation programs in the Caribbean. The respondents identified 136 conflicts, and we grouped them into 16 different categories. The most commonly mentioned causes of conflicts were: 1) the ‘lack of enforcement by local authorities to support conservation-based legislation or programs’ (18%); 2) ‘legal consumption of turtles by one sector of community clashing the conservation aspirations of other sectors of community (14%); and 3) ’variable enforcement of legislation to limit/prohibit use across range states of the species (10%). From our data it is also apparent that illicit activities in the region are also likely to impact the future success of conservation or monitoring based projects and programs. Overall, an exhaustive review was carried out, and the potential solutions were gathered. Due to the level of severity (physical violence) that some conflicts have reached, achieving solutions will be challenging without mediation, mutual cooperation around shared values, and adaptive management arrangements. Achieving this will require combinations of bottom up and top down collaborative governance approaches.