Ecotourism and sea turtle harvesting in a fishing village of Bahia, Brazil
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Many environmentalists believe ecotourism has the potential to generate net benefits for people and nature. For more than two decades, the Brazilian Sea Turtle Conservation Program (TAMAR) has provided jobs and income through ecotourism in Praia do Forte, Brazil, in exchange for reduced harvesting of sea turtles. In this article we evaluate the relationships between ecotourism at TAMAR and local support for sea turtle conservation. Nine months of ethnographic research (2006-2008) suggest that ecotourism-related employment and income have been somewhat stable and reliable. The average income of respondents who worked with TAMAR was lower than that reported by people not working with TAMAR. Workers noted other non-economic benefits. Though the majority supported sea turtle conservation, it is unclear how feelings will waver with new mass tourism developments in the region. As the cost of living increases, residents may increasingly be inclined to look for work outside TAMAR. Development also attracts new immigrants, making it difficult for locals to control sea turtle harvesting. These trends challenge the notion that economic incentives for locals alone will ensure conservation. Further research is needed to understand the conditions under which ecotourism may foster long-term conservation in the face of larger developments surrounding community ecotourism projects.
Conservation and Society
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Conservation and Biodiversity