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According to respondents in the South Fly, western and eastern communities were more dependent on fishing for their income-generating livelihoods and had higher levels of involvement in illegal activities with the Indonesian buyers. Their reduced livelihood options depended on a lack of markets in the case of the western villages and in a reduced resource base in the case of eastern villages.
When more profitable cash-generating activities were present, as in the central villages and part of Daru, people were less involved in the trade with the Indonesian buyers. Central villages mainly relied on the trade of handcrafts with the Torres Strait islands while part of the residents in Daru could engage in small-scale businesses and employment. Often the effectiveness of such projects has been questioned but empirical studies assessing such projects are scarce Wicander and Coad , Roe et al.
The different behavior toward illegal activities observed in various South Fly communities is an indication that alternative livelihood projects could disincentive involvement in illegal wildlife harvest and trade under appropriate conditions. Involvement in the trade with Indonesian buyers had a negative impact on the whole social-ecological Trans-Fly system.
Traditionally, as also in neighboring Torres Strait, South Fly communities do not have the notion of the finite nature of marine resources, because of the high marine productivity of the area and the low human population Johannes and MacFarlane Concerns were however expressed for the overexploitation of some of the targeted resources, such as BDM. BDM is known to be highly vulnerable to overexploitation, and cases of overexploitation following the opening of fisheries for the Asian markets have been reported all over the world Anderson et al.
The moratorium introduced by the NFA has been trying to conserve this important resource. Continuous unmonitored exploitation of this resource will have negative social-ecological impacts on the Trans-Fly system, with a loss in ecosystem services and income and higher levels of food insecurity Kinch et al.
The socioeconomic impacts of overexploitation of marine resources can be more severe for communities in Daru and surrounding villages, which are highly reliant on them. Respondents also reported a breakdown of the customary marine tenure following immigration, consistent with similar situations in other parts of PNG Cinner Customary marine tenure breakdown further increases the vulnerability of exploited species Watson Respondents also expressed their concern for the breakdown of the traditional social systems and a rise in prostitution and crime, coupled with widespread corruption.
Women were particularly vocal in discussing how income from illegal activities was not resulting in an evident economic gain for involved households nor in long-term community development. Although earnings from the illegal trade of wildlife provide a substantial income, there is not economic gain for households because of the unpredictability of the source and the volatility of earned cash van Vliet Income earned from the illegal wildlife trade often does not contribute to food security but is spent in recreational items such as alcohol Coad et al.
Distance from the markets and economic centers was the main driver for the engagement of people in illegal activities. Distance from a main economic center was also the main driver of poverty. Contrary to a body of literature on the illegal trade of natural resources, mainly conducted in Africa Lindsey et al.
Only in Daru, where Fly River immigrants resettled, were the poorest households likely to be involved in the illegal trade. In this case, a limited resource base and lack of ownership of natural resources prevent immigrants to survive on subsistence activities, driving them to engage in illegal activities. Poor households in Daru, particularly immigrants, are more reliant on the illegal activities for their food security.
The strong correlation between distance from the markets, with their services and infrastructures, on one hand and engagement in illegal trade and poverty on the other is largely consistent with what is found in other studies in developing countries Twinamatsiko et al. Lack of infrastructure and inaccessibility to markets prevent remote communities from engaging in the cash economy Gibson and Rozelle However, in remote communities located in transboundary regions, these opportunities are provided by their proximity to neighboring countries and international markets Velasco Illegal activities in transboundary regions are common economic activities, and are often part of an historical trade network forged before the delineation of current borders Tagliacozzo Also, traveling traders, described by Berkes et al.
Lack of infrastructure and inaccessibility to markets have previously been found to drive poverty in remote PNG communities Gibson and Rozelle , and in the transboundary region of the Trans-Fly, traditional inhabitants cross the border to take advantage of Australian health facilities and other services in the Torres Strait Islands Lokuge et al.
These patterns are corroborated by our study, where poverty was found to be greater with increasing distance from both the domestic and the Australian markets. The lack of correlation between poverty and involvement in illegal trade in the villages of the South Fly supports Duffy et al.
Interestingly, we observed a different pattern in Daru, where illegal trade was indeed found to be related to poverty. Overpopulation, lack of employment opportunities, inadequate services and infrastructure, and a scarcity of terrestrial resources has led to legal and illegal overexploitation of marine resources.
Impoverishment due to a limited terrestrial natural resources and a lack of employment opportunities, and subsequent dependence on marine resources and trade was observed particularly among Fly River immigrants in Daru, who live in settlements with no water, sanitation, cooking facilities, and have low education levels. Suggested long-term solutions were the provision of alternative incomes not based on the exploitation of natural resources.
Our analysis also suggested that more profitable alternative income-generating activities might decrease the involvement in illegal activities. Respondents recognized, however, that to be successful such interventions should be part of an integrated approach with the reintroduction of customary marine tenures and the establishment of community-based initiatives, such as organized cooperatives and community-based management, to cater for the fast changing social-ecological system.
In neighboring Torres Strait communities, a functional participatory governance system, associated with income from welfare and commercial fishing are effective deterrents against illegal trade Busilacchi et al. Another proposed intervention was the establishment of transboundary comanagement arrangements. An adaptive, multilateral agreement involving PNG, Australia, and Indonesia is necessary for the establishment of collaborative discussions that can manage the rapidly changing dynamics of this transboundary social-ecological system.
The failure of the current PNG governance system appears to be a primary systemic cause of the declining trajectories in human and natural resource condition Butler et al. The debate about how to effectively intervene to combat the illegal harvesting and trade of natural resources has been a focus of conservation, development, and academic arenas in the last decade.
Results from our empirical study show that a mix of short- and long-term interventions are necessary in the South Fly. Results from the present study suggest that alternative livelihood interventions could be effective in diverting communities from illegal wildlife trade while improving the livelihoods in the communities. However, it is also clear that within our study area a single intervention cannot be the overall solution to the unsustainable illegal trade of marine products.
Motivations to get involved in such practices are location-specific and the systemic socioeconomic and cultural issues can vary also between communities in the same area.
In the Trans-Fly social-ecological system, illegal trade of marine resources has different drivers, which should be tackled separately.
Our findings emphasize the need to find innovative governance solutions to manage the stressed Trans-Fly social-ecological system, without which severe social, economic, and environmental repercussions could soon eventuate.
SB thanks the people and ward members of the coastal villages in the South Fly for allowing her to work and live in their communities. The authors thank staff of the local NGO Bata CDF in Daru for their assistance in the field; without their assistance we would not have been able to conduct this study.
We also thank the provincial and district fisheries officials who provided support to the study. For preliminary statistical analysis SB thanks Takahiro Shimada. University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. Poor rural places in Papua New Guinea. Asia Pacific Viewpoint Serial exploitation of global sea cucumber fisheries. Fish and Fisheries Using surveys to assess the prevalence of sexual harassment: Journal of Social Issues 51 1: Customary marine tenure systems and sustainable fisheries management in Papua New Guinea: Strategic and export reassessment report: Torres Strait Beche-de-mer fishery.
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Go to the pdf version of this article. The following is the established format for referencing this article: Drivers of illegal livelihoods in remote transboundary regions: Ecology and Society 23 1: Sara Busilacchi 1 , James R. Butler 1 , Wayne A. Rochester 2 and Joseph Posu 3. Many of these resources are being overexploited to supply an ever-increasing demand from Asia, often via illegal cross-border trade.
Understanding the systemic issues that drive households to engage in illegal activities in transboundary regions is a prerequisite for designing effective interventions and diverting livelihoods toward sustainable trajectories, but is rarely applied.
This study analyzed the drivers of illegal trade in marine products, e. Mixed-methods household questionnaire surveys, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews were applied to triangulate results and minimize denial bias, which is a challenge when studying illegality. Results indicated that distance from markets and economic centers was the main driver for engagement in illegal activity, and distance from a center was also the main driver of poverty.
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