Small islands dependent on reef fisheries, farming and tourism are vulnerable to rising human and natural pressures and may target "sustainable" development. Marine Protected Areas (MPA) have a proven ability to meet ecological goals, such as restoring fisheries and preserving ecosystem function across scales. However, there is a comparative lack of scientific baseline data and social research which may help local MPA to overcome failures in achieving mixed conservation and development goals in populated coastal areas facing intense pressure. This fieldwork-based case study researched in French and Creole languages in the sub-tropical, mid-Oceanic island of Rodrigues (Mauritius, Indian Ocean) addresses two main questions: "Are conservation and development compatible goals for MPA in small islands reliant on fisheries and tourism?", and, "Do social-ecological resilience concepts help clarify related issues of sustainability?". Results from two quantitative surveys with fishers {n=93) and tourists (n=351) on one level support a "win-win" scenario for conservation and development. Local fishers' knowledge suggested marine fish species including large predators of ecological and economic significance had been in decline for decades. Tourists' stated willingness to pay to use Marine and Coastal Protected Areas could help fund consen/ation of biodiversity and fishery enhancement, with fee options ranging from MPA up to island-level. Beyond this, downside risks emerged from qualitative interviews with key informants (n=70) and historical analysis of island-level social-ecological resilience testing the explanatory value of the conceptual Adaptive Cycle model (Holling and Gunderson 2002). A recent crisis catalysed by severe drought (1970s) led to deep social and ecological changes (collapse in farming, migration and external dependence), while subsequent policies failed to address key drivers, instead creating negative feedbacks ensuring degradation extended outward from the coast. Remote and vulnerable small islands with few resources (forests, soil, water, energy) need significant capital inputs from higher scales which are seldom taken into account in determining the balance of winners and losers in conservation and development policy at MPA or island level. A lack of interisland trust (social capital), water scarcity, climate change and migration arise as critical issues for the future. Rodrigues characterises the secondary importance of island regions within larger Island states, and underlines the cross-scale and cross-temporal nature of sustainability in resilience terms. This thesis' main contribution lies in its first demonstration of shifting baselines in an island reef fishery or MPA context. Findings contributed to the establishment of MPA In the fieldwork site of Rodrigues, and are of broad relevance for MPA policy across the tropics and beyond. More studies are needed across other ecosystems and cultures.

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