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Coastal resource degradation in the tropics: Does the tragedy of the commons apply for coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds

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The keynote paper by Garrett Hardin 44 years ago introduced the term ‘tragedy of the commons’ into ourlanguage (Hardin, 1968); this term is now used widely, but it is neither universally accepted nor fullyunderstood. Irrespective, the ‘tragedy of the commons’ is an increasing reality for more than 500 millionpeople that rely on the biodiversity resources and services of tropical coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea-
grass beds and associated fisheries. These natural resources continue to decline despite major advances in our scientific understanding of how ecosystems and human populations interact, and the application of considerable conservation and management efforts at scales from local user communities to oceans.
Greater effort will be required to avert increasing damage from over-exploitation, pollution and global climate change; all deriving from increasing exploitation driven by poverty and progress i.e. continuing to expand development indefinitely and extraction of resources at industrial scales. However, the ‘trag-edy’ concept has been widely criticized as a simple metaphor for a much larger set of problems and solutions. We argue that the ‘tragedy’ is essentially real and will continue to threaten the lives of millions of people unless there are some major moral and policy shifts to reverse increasing damage to coastal habitats and resources. We agree with the conclusion by Hardin that the solution to the tragedy will not be through the application of natural sciences, but via implementing exceedingly difficult and controversial moral decisions. An extreme example of a moral and controversial direction suggested by Hardin was in re-examining the ‘freedom to breed’ as an inherent human value. The need for ‘moral decisions’ is even greater in 2012.

Éditeur

Marine Pollution Bulletin 64 (2012) 1096–1105

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pdf

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anglais

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Clive Wilkinson, Bernard Salvat, “Coastal resource degradation in the tropics: Does the tragedy of the commons apply for coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds,” Documentation Ifrecor, consulté le 22 mai 2022, http://ifrecor-doc.fr/items/show/1561.