By: Ryan Schendel, ’14
Marine and Coastal Tourism has grown to define the Caribbean economy in the 20th and 21st century. Since it’s beginning, tourism has always centered on accommodating the needs of the tourist, and creating an environment of comfort and leisure. In the process, large changes have been engrained in Caribbean economics, environment, social structure, and government to promote the growth of this commercialized venture. This article focuses on the environmental impact that the developing tourism industry in the Caribbean has on marine ecosystems. Extensive literature review on topics such as marine activities of tourism, coastal development, increasing demand of artisanal fishing, and principles of ecology pertinent to this issue is conducted to determine possible pressures being placed on marine ecosystems. In results, findings show that a combination of these factors has perpetuated the degradation of coral reef communities and subsequently led to a decrease in fish populations. Finally, possible alternatives and solutions are reviewed to determine the future outlook to this environmental trend of decline, determining the most effective use of resources and providing present-day examples of success stories.