Perceived impact of offshore aquaculture area on small-scale fisheries: A fuzzy logic model approach
Recently an action plan has been put in place off southeastern Portugal, consisting in an offshore aquaculture area off the Armona sandy barrier island, Armona Pilot Production Aquaculture Area (APPAA). The infrastructure was created after the initiative of the Portuguese Government aiming to stimulate local employment opportunities related to seafood production. The APPAA aims to improve resilience of finfish and shellfish production for the future. However, the delimited infrastructure is located nearby some fishery-dependent communities. Therefore, such proximity may cause friction with some fishermen due to the limitations post APPAA development (e.g. may feel their jobs are threatened). In this study, we queried the reasoning rules elicited by local fishing communities and their perceived impact of the APPAA implementation. In that scope, a fuzzy logic expert system approach was used to investigate the interaction between three input variables (namely, ‘availability of fishable area’, ‘navigational disturbance’, and ‘catch variation’) and the output variable (i.e., overall ‘fishing community satisfaction’). The results from the fuzzy logic expert system showed that ‘catch variation’ was the input that most affected ‘fishing community satisfaction’ and seemed to be the one that suffered most changes. The results also show that, for the analyzed years, where the catch was higher, the degree of satisfaction tended to follow the trend, independently of the fishing community. The other two input variables were more conditioned by governmental arrangement (‘availability of fishable area’) and by small-scale fishermen reaction (‘navigational disturbance’). The fuzzy logic expert system proved to be a valuable tool, facilitating the analysis of governance arrangements, particularly those dealing with the interaction between the fisheries–offshore aquaculture system as a whole.