USF St. Petersburg campus Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate)

First Advisor

Joseph Dorsey, Ph.D. University of South Florida, St. Petersburg


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Date Available

March 2012

Publication Date


Date Issued

December 2009


Small-scale fisheries account for a vast majority of fisheries globally. Their overexploitation threatens coastal environments, including the people living there, throughout the world (Basurto, 2008). Finding productive alternatives to unsustainable levels of fishing is a necessary part of curbing this probl em. Ecotourism has offered such an alternative to coastal communities, and there are already some successful examples of community-managed ecotourism groups in Mexico. Beyond providing a source of income for community members, these programs also facilitate environmental education, thus fostering local community involvement in conservation goals. This study focuses on ecotourism programs that have been started in three towns along the Yucatan coast of Mexico. This is a preliminary study that was conducted to evaluate the extent to which these programs are functioning, thus far, in terms of two different, but related, capacities: As a productive alternative and as loci of environmental education. Although there are fishers who have moved partially or completely away from fishing to work in ecotourism, this number of people employed by ecotourism is limited and environmental education is not an integral part of these three programs. Future efforts should focus on facilitating the growth of these programs and strengthening, through education, the connection between their economic goals as a productive activity and conservation goals as an alternative to fishing.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment ofthe requirements of the University Honors Program, University of South Florida St. Petersburg

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