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Between Preservation and ExploitationTransnational Advocacy Networks and Conservation in Developing Countries$
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Kemi Fuentes-George

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034289

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034289.001.0001

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Tourism, Development, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

Tourism, Development, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

(p.47) 2 Tourism, Development, and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef
Between Preservation and Exploitation

Kemi Fuentes-George

The MIT Press

This chapter introduces the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS), a delicate system of coral reefs and mangroves along the coastline of Quintana Roo state in Mexico, threatened by overfishing and large-scale tourist development. It shows how a transnational advocacy network became an epistemic community by generating a shared understanding of the MBRS through transnational workshops held as part of the planning process for a GEF funded project. Although the epistemic community was able to generate a scientific consensus on reef degradation, they were only able to influence new regulations adopted by policymakers in agencies with which they socialized, namely in federal environmental and fishing agencies. Policymakers in the state government of Quintana Roo, and managers in hotelier associations actively resisted new protection adopted by federal agencies. Although the epistemic community attempted to use economic arguments to support conservation, these actors asserted that economic development could best be promoted by continued large-scale tourist development along the coast. However, when local actors and the mass public, alarmed about resource overexploitation and concerned about local justice issues, demanded new regulations to conserve biodiversity, policymakers acquiesced.

Keywords:   Tourism, Mesoamerica, Mexico, Epistemic community, Development, Justice, Biodiversity

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