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Ecotourism has been embraced by a number of developing nations hoping to improve their economies in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible. The Afroindigenous Garifuna population located in the Cayos Cochinos, a Marine Protected Area (MPA), is undergoing a livelihood transition from fishing to ecotourism. This paper draws on ethnographic research conducted with Operation Wallacea (Opwall), a private scientific research expedition organization, to begin to explore the potential barriers to the promotion of ecotourism as an alternative livelihood strategy. The historical struggle for territorial control in the region is presented as having created distrust between the Garifuna communities reliant on MPA resources and the organizations working to conserve those resources. Funding priorities of conservation organizations working within the area are considered, and the impact of the relationship between the NGO that manages the local resources and its major funding source has on the ability of the Garifuna to control and manage their traditional resources is explored. Finally, Garifuna mobilization to regain control over local resources and economic development is discussed.