Question: How does the intersection of cultures and science affect ocean conservation?

Thesis: As ocean conservation becomes a worldwide mission, the approach scientists and politicians take to research and implement laws policies is dependent upon an in-depth understanding of the cultures they are interacting with.

For my research project this semester I am interested in looking into how ocean conservation movements are positively or negatively influenced by the culture of the place they are in and vice versa. I plan on looking at specific conservation movements in different areas around the world: the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean and the Northern Atlantic. My research will look into specific movements affect the culture of the area they are in and how scientists and policy makers address cultural differences, if they do at all.

Tentative Outline:

I. Introduction: Shark conservation movements around the world, focusing on three different geographic areas: Caribbean, Pacific, Northern Atlantic.

II. Body

  1. Caribbean
    • Culture & industry of coral reefs
      • The coral reef industry is endangered by bleaching and disease epidemics.
      • However, the tourism is by far the biggest industry of the Caribbean –> “Sea, Sun & Sand” are heavily advertised by travel companies and resorts in the Caribbean.
      • The tourism industry of the Caribbean is worth billions of dollars, while environmental movements to protect coral reefs will help coral reef survival they are likely to place limitations on the tourism industry. Specifically, the reef diving industry which will have a direct impact on the tourism industry.
  2. Pacific
    • Culture of finning in Asia
      • Shark meat in most commercial fisheries is considered to be low value
      • Fins are worth a lot in the Asian soup market
      • Fisherman practice “finning” where they catch the shark, cut off the fin and throw the shark back into the sea, often times still alive, and left to die.
    • Cultural Significance of sharks in Hawaii
      • Sharks have been held in high reverence by generations of Hawaiians as aumakua (family guardians)—ancestors reincarnated as animals and sent to protect family members.
      • Sharks in Hawaiian culture are also used for food and material resources. For example, shark teeth are used to make weapons or shark skin is used to make the head of a drum.
  3. Northern Atlantic
    • Fishing Industry in the North Atlantic
      • Communities stretching along the coast of New England states of the United States and in Canada’s Atlantic provinces are dependent upon the fishing industry for their survival.
      • The fishing industry in New England is a multi billion dollar industry that provides a living for people and families all along the coast.
    • Overfishing and by-catch
      • New technologies have been introduced to  address issues of by-catch. Fishing methods are also very harmful to marine environments.
      • By-catch of protected species is especially problematic.
      • Organizations such as NOAA have been addressing by-catch –> National Bycatch Reduction Strategy
      • How did the Marine Mammal Protection Act affect fishing culture, specifically in New England? Has it been effective in reducing by-catch and protecting marine mammals?

III. Conclusion