Examining linkages between ecosystem services and social wellbeing to improve governance for coastal conservation in Jamaica
This research examines perceptions of the linkages between ecosystem services (ES) and social wellbeing in a small-scale fishing community in Bluefields, Jamaica. It analyzes the perceived changes to these linkages based on the impacts of a marine protected area (MPA) on this coastal social-ecological system. MPAs can have positive long-term social and ecological effects, but in the short-term they can negatively impact communities, and careful attention to these impacts is needed to achieve positive conservation outcomes. We conducted 42 semi-structured interviews and six focus groups discussions with community members in Bluefields. Key findings from this research include: 1) the importance of provisioning (e.g., fish, lobster) and cultural ES (e.g., cultural heritage, bequest values) and their bundled qualities to both fishers and non-fishers; 2) the perceived impact of the MPA is highest for inshore fishers, while offshore fishers/non-fishers reported few/no negative impacts; and 3) inshore fishers perceive being more marginalized in governance processes, despite reporting the greatest negative change to ES access and social wellbeing from MPA implementation. The results suggest that governance processes for coastal conservation must acknowledge the individual and shared values of coastal areas and traditional livelihoods to achieve long-term legitimacy and support.