Publication Type: Journal Article
Year of Publication: 2016
Authors: Cisneros-Montemayor, A. M. and A.C.J. Vincent.
Journal: Ecology and Society
Socio-political issues are important in environmental policy outcomes but are often overlooked in conservation planning. We analyze the effects of historical social, political, and ecological contexts on conservation policy outcomes as applied to the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve. A rushed implementation, perhaps necessary for the protection of endangered totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) and vaquita (Phocoena sinus), occurred with little community consultation, resulting in enduring disgruntlement among stakeholders that undermined its effectiveness. Overfishing and habitat degradation continue both inside and outside the reserve, and totoaba and vaquita remain Critically Endangered, with the latter’s population estimated at approximately 90 individuals. Marine reserves can be useful, but when top-down enforcement is unfeasible, effective environmental policy requires full recognition and integration of political history and social structures and needs, and open discussion on trade-offs when win-win situations are not possible.