Who benefits from seafood trade? A comparison of social and market structures in small-scale fisheries

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 3:00pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2018
Date published: 01/2018
Authors: Elizabeth O'Neill, Beatrice Crona, Alice Ferrer, Robert Pomeroy, Narriman Jiddawi
Journal title: Ecology and Society
Volume: 23
Issue: 3
ISSN: 1708-3087

We examine the benefits flowing from a coastal seascape through seafood trade to various social groups in two distinct small-scale fishery case studies. A knowledge gap currently exists in relation to how benefits from a fishery, and the associated trade, are ultimately distributed, specifically, how market structures and relations, and the combined dynamics of the local fishing society, can mediate these flows. Previous research into improved fisheries governance for food and livelihood security has failed to integrate the structure of the market place as well as the multidimensional nature of actor relations that influence extractive behavior. Using a value chain framework, we take a relational approach to study these gaps. Surveys were conducted in two fisheries (Zanzibar and the Philippines) as part of a comparative analysis including market-types, assistance networks, and income inequality. Chain structures, gender roles, and levels of contractualization within the two cases differed vastly, appearing to give rise to different types of income inequalities and barriers to participation. In the Philippines economic exchanges revolve more around provision of financial capital, although in both systems social standing and obligations play a role in determining market structures. In Zanzibar trading agents engaging customers in predetermined sale arrangements earn relatively more than their counterpart freelancers, however at the production level no income differences are seen between those with or without arrangements. Both cases stand to be further integrated into the international seafood market, which raises questions over how certain actors will benefit, based on their current participation and access. Results emphasize the need for more evidence in regards to benefits flows and how aspects such as gender and transaction forms impact them. This is necessary for governance decisions around fisheries, poverty alleviation, and increased global market integration.

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