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Poverty and Reefs

1.3 Coral reef stakeholders

The number of people who are dependent on coral reefs is unknown. This is partially because dependence is such a variable and ill-defined concept, and partially because the statistics on the relationship between people and reefs are poor.

Coral reefs stakeholders are many and their livelihoods are diverse and vary in the type and extent of their dependence on coral reef resources. Stakeholders may be considered as those living adjacent to the reef, whose livelihood revolves around the direct extraction, processing and sale of reef resources and whose homes and land are sheltered by the reef from wave action. Those who harvest products from the reef include both men and women, young and old, who can directly access shallow near-shore reefs by foot. Reef stakeholders may also include the many people who consume reef products, both locally and far away (Box 1), those that use the near-shore reef and coastal environment as a dumping ground for waste, those who visit the reef for recreation, or those whose interest in the reef is for research and study.

The dependence of these different reef stakeholders varies, from those whose association is full time, to part time users and those who only occasionally depend on the reef. Some may depend on the reef only on a seasonal basis, but that dependence can be absolute and at such times the reef becomes a critical keystone resource, without which their survival would be threatened. Others may only come to depend on it occasionally, when it acts as a vital safety net, which enables them to overcome extreme hardships or crises. In this way, those not generally considered as ‘reef users’, such as farmers, may also be reefdependent at certain times, when, for example, the reef provides crucial resources enabling households to overcome seasonal lows in agricultural production, or occasional and severe droughts.

Other people are much more indirect users of the reef, such as people in wider society who value the reefs existence but who may never use it. These different broad groups of stakeholders can be represented as shown in Figure 4.

These key groups of stakeholders are made up of a wide range of different groups of people whose lives often intersect and interact as shown in Figure 5.
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