Examining local interfaces: Integrating marine conservation and small-scale fisheries management into local livelihoods in the Arafura Timor Seas Region.

Examining local interfaces: Integrating marine conservation and small-scale fisheries management into local livelihoods in the Arafura Timor Seas Region.

Fri, 20/06/2014 - 10:00 to 11:00

About the Presenter

Dirk J. Steenbergen’s research focuses on the dynamic nexus between ground-level actors and multi-scaled biodiversity conservation groups in the governance and co-management of natural resources.  He completed his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Nature Conservation Policy and Management at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands. For his M.Sc. research, he focused on the participation of marginalized Bajo fishing communities in protected area management in Wakatobi National Park, in SE Sulawesi (eastern Indonesia).  Besides his research interests in (marine) conservation practice, he spent several years working within conservation programs collaborating on conservation issues with indigenous communities in northeast Namibia and later in Greater Mekong Sub-region.  In 2013 he completed his PhD at the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University.  His current NAMRA sponsored post-doctoral research fellowship at RIEL- CDU sees him continue his focus on issues of local governance of marine resources in the context of the Arafura Timor Seas region.


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Remote coastal communities in the Arafura Timor Seas Region increasingly find themselves engaged with conservation and development oriented agencies concerned to develop sustainable management of marine resources.  In understanding societal responses to management interventions, strong interplays of structural and agency-based dynamics behind implementation emerge.  The seminar will examine collaborations and contestations taking place within communities, and between them and technocratic organizations, according to the different ideas, meanings, values and practices that become attached to a program.

Deconstructing the collaboration between an Indonesian marine conservation NGO and a small island community, will show how within a single community a conservation program can gain support from specific groups while inciting resistance from others, and how this impacts the way ideas of sustainability are ultimately perceived and valued locally.  The findings suggest that participatory conservation programs become far more than simply ‘platforms/vehicles to instil sustainable conservation practice’, but inevitably function within complex flows of social interaction and local etiquette, and in this are used by local groups towards attaining objectives that do not necessarily correspond with those of the conservation program.

The first part of the seminar will be based on a multi-sited ethnographic PhD research project that built on long-term fieldwork in small island communities in Eastern Indonesia.  The latter part of the presentation will look ahead at research that is currently taking shape and will layout the projected expansion of objectives and study sites.  The current research will be undertaken over the next 3 years under a NAMRA post-doctoral fellowship.

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