The changing role of NGOs in Mexican small-scale fisheries: From environmental conservation to multi-scale governance
Multi-scale governance has been widely recommended for effective marine resource management. This approach suggests collective decision-making, the devolution of some rights and responsibilities to various entities, co-production of knowledge, coupling governance and ecological scales, among other elements. Here, the elements of multi-scale governance of Mexican small-scale fisheries (SSF) and the contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to this approach are described. Three management processes were selected for the analysis: (1) the development of the Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for the swimming crab fishery; (2) the establishment of fishing refugia in the Punta San Cosme to Punta Coyote Corridor; and (3) the implementation of catch shares in the Gulf corvina fishery. The results suggest that NGOs are contributing to most of the key attributes for multi-scale fisheries governance. Given the NGOs׳ agenda shift in the Gulf of California region, from advocacy for environmental conservation to participation in sustainable management, there has been a wider promotion and acceptance of NGOs within governance related processes in fisheries management. In order to clarify alignments with other stakeholder agendas, as well as to continue building trust, NGOs need to make their governance agenda explicit. This work provides insights on how NGOs can contribute to multi-scale governance and a framework for the evaluation of management processes and the contribution of different stakeholders to multi-scale governance, which can be applied to any management process.