People
Stephanie Sabbagh, MSc.

B.Sc. Biology (2004) McGill University; MSc. Renewable Resources (2012) McGill University.

 

 

 

 

 


MSc. Thesis:

 

SOCIAL FACTORS AFFECTING SHARK CONSERVATION ON THE MESOAMERICAN BARRIER REEF: A CASE STUDY OF BELIZE

 

Abstract

Sharks play an important ecological role in the structure and resilience of coral reefs. Research indicates a worldwide decline of sharks at an unprecedented rate, yet sharks are often not protected. Belize, a small Central American nation bordered by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, is not an exception. This thesis presents the results of an exploratory qualitative study into the attitudes and perceptions of shark stakeholders in Belize and assesses their relative importance and influence on shark conservation policy and management outcomes. Results indicate that Belizeans do not significantly fish and consume sharks; Mexicans, Guatemalans and Hondurans eat shark and fish it especially during Lent within Belize waters. Findings also suggest that stakeholders have different uses for shark products; that they have divergent views on the status of shark populations; that they value sharks differently and consequently have conflicting attitudes towards their conservation; and that stakeholders have different interests and unequal power to influence policies. These conflicts pose a serious challenge to sustainable policy-formation and ultimately the conservation of shark species. This research represents a first step towards understanding the social factors affecting shark conservation in Belize and supports calls for the meaningful involvement of community stakeholders in marine and reef policy formulation. Future research efforts should explore mechanisms for building trust and communication between reef scientists and stakeholders and further define the essential characteristics of sustainable rural livelihoods in Belize.

 


Awards and Scholarships:

STRI-McGill-NEO (SMN) Fellowship (2010).

Provost’s Graduate Fellowship (2010).

Principal’s Graduate Fellowship (2010).

 


Conference Presentations:

Sabbagh, S. and Hickey, G.M. (2012). Social factors affecting shark conservation in Belize: A case study. Oral presentation at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium. Cairns, Queensland, Australia. 9-13 July 2012

 


 

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