Diving dangerously: Exploring human health and resource trade-offs of extreme dive profiles in a Caribbean dive fishery. [graduate project].
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Dive fishers around the world employ compressed air diving to harvest marine living resources in the quest for livelihoods. Fishers can suffer catastrophic health consequences while targetting these fisheries resources that are in states of overexploitation. While the health effects of diving fisheries have been well documented, the underlying drivers of unsafe dive practices remain unaddressed. Applying an ethnographic approach, this study examined why fishers undertake unsafe dive profiles in the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) and Queen Conch (Lobatus gigas) small-scale dive fishery of Grenada. Semi-structured, qualitative interview data from fishers were supplemented by direct and participant observation, and analyzed using a thematic, grounded theory approach. Factors promoting unsafe dive practices, vulnerabilities in the fishery as well as dive related risk factors were identified. Unsafe dive profiles are largely driven by uncertainties in the market for catch, which are also influenced by changes in the ecology of the fishery. Three approaches exist for fisheries managers: reduce vulnerabilities affecting fishers, address underlying drivers, and mitigating diving risk factors. Under appropriate management and socio-economic regimes, it is not inconceivable that the Grenadian dive fishery could be a safe, sustainable and economically viable model.