Common property to co-management : social change and participation in Brazil's first Maritime Extractive Reserve
Maritime Extractive Reserves, a new type of government-community collaborative management regime, are being established in coastal areas of Brazil in order to protect natural resources while sustaining local livelihoods. The long-term participation of resource users provides the cornerstone of this conservation and development model. This approach to conservation is supported by common property theory that questions the inevitable destruction of collectively managed resources. This thesis explores the relationship between Maritime Extractive Reserves in Brazil and the traditional coastal communities they are created to protect. Specifically, it investigates the quality of the institutions which have traditionally governed the beach seining community in Arraial do Cabo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It then analyses the levels and kinds of participation and perceptions of the newly created Extractive Reserve, which attempts to build upon these traditional relationships. Finally, the study identifies community level factors that constrain or provide potential for long-term participatory conservation in this area. A case study approach is adopted, involving both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Data were collected through a questionnaire, participant observation, formal and informal interviews, focus groups and document review. This hybrid approach enables contextual exploration for which qualitative methods are essential ensuring a higher degree of accuracy and reliability than either could offer in isolation. The data reveal that, although local traditional resource management institutions have a long history and were once effective, they have weakened over time. The data also indicate that there are significant social barriers to collective action within this user group which have implications for the operational viability of the Extractive Reserve concept. These barriers include weak organization, hierarchical structures, high levels of intra-community conflict and mistrust of government. Consequently, both the quantity and quality of participation in the reserve is low and therefore, local fishers are not becoming decisive players in the decision-making process. The implications of these conclusions for future maritime conservation policy in Brazil are explored.