Despite the successful establishment of marine protected areas in the Netherlands Antilles, such as Saba and Bonaire, government-led protection of the reefs surrounding Curacao has repeatedly failed. In the absence of effective state regulation, dive operations have taken de facto control over dive sites, establishing conservation through a range of private initiatives akin to what have been referred to as entrepreneurial marine protected areas (EMPAs). The paper analyses the potential of these EMPAs to regulate access and control to dive sites and good diver practices. Using data from interviews with key actors in the dive industry and a survey of tourist divers the paper shows that achieving an island wide system of EMPAs is dependent on issues related to ownership over the reef, geographical location, and market competition. The paper concludes that the viability of such a system is not only dependent on the dynamics of the local and international dive market, in which all actors pursue their own interests, but also on the establishment of meta-governance arrangements that can provide incentive-based oversight to the entrepreneurial conservation practices of dive operations.
- environmental governance