The increasing technological efficiency of harvesting equipment has been identified as one of the main causes of overcapacity and overexploitation of natural resources. In this paper, a formal model is developed which studies the effects of technological efficiency as an endogenous variable within a bioeconomic system. We model capital investments in a fishery, where investment decisions are made less frequently than the allocation of variable inputs. We study how the possibility to invest in capital affects open access dynamics, and also the evolution of cooperative harvesting norms. We find that the possibility to make large capital investments can destabilize cooperation, especially if enforcement capacity is low. Further, we find that communities can preserve cooperation by agreeing on a resource level that is lower than socially-optimal. This reduces the incentive to deviate from the cooperative strategy and invest in capital.
Small-scale fishing communities are increasingly connected to international seafood trade via exports in a growing global market. Understanding how this connectedness impacts local fishery systems, both socially and ecologically, has become a necessary challenge for fishery governance. Market prices are a potential mechanism by which global market demands are transferred to small-scale fishery actors. In most small-scale fisheries (SSF) this happens through various traders (intermediaries, middlemen/women, or patrons). By financing fishing operations, buying and selling products and transferring market information, traders can actively pass international market signals, such as price, to fishers. How these signals influence fishers’ decisions and the consequent fishing efforts, is still poorly understood yet significant for future social-ecological sustainability. This paper uses an economic framed field experiment, in combination with interviews, to shed light on this. It does so in the context of the Philippine patron-client “suki” arrangement. Over 250 fishers in Concepcion, Iloilo were asked in an economic experiment, to make decisions about fuel loans in light of changing market prices. Interviews with participants and their patrons gathered additional information on relevant contextual variables potentially influencing borrowing. They included fisher characteristics and socio-economic conditions. Contrary to our hypotheses, fishers showed no response in their borrowing behavior to experimental price changes. Instead, gender and the previous experiment round were predictive of their choice of loans in the experiment. We explore possible reasons for this and discuss potential implications for social-ecological sustainability and fishery governance.
Citizen science is a rapidly growing field with well-designed and run citizen science projects providing substantial benefits for conservation and management. Marine citizen science presents a unique set of challenges and lags behind terrestrial citizen science, but also provides significant opportunities to work in data-poor fisheries. This paper analyses case studies of citizen science projects developed in collaboration with small-scale fishing communities in Mexico’s Pacific Ocean, Gulf of California and Caribbean Sea. The design and performance of these projects were evaluated against the previously published Ten Principles of Citizen Science, and Scientific Stages of Inquiry. Our results suggest that fisheries monitoring, submarine monitoring of no take zones, oceanographic monitoring, and the use of species identification apps by fishers meet the requirements of the published guidelines and are effective tools for involving the small-scale fishing community in science. Translating effective citizen science projects in to effective fishery management, however, is still at an early stage. Whilst citizen science data have been used locally by communities to adapt fishing practices, calculate recommendations for total allowable catches, establish and evaluate no take zones and detect range extensions of species affected by climate change, challenges remain regarding how to garner official recognition for the data, incorporate these growing sources of data into national policy, and use the data for adaptive management regimes at the national level.
The southern California rock crab fishery targets stocks comprised of three species: red (Cancer productus), yellow (Metacarcinus anthonyi), and brown rock crab (Romaleon antennarium). Fishers have expressed concern about the sustainability of the fishery due to increased fishing effort over the past decade, and because it is managed as one assemblage despite distinct life history differences among the species. We collaborated with fishers to test for stock-specific declines in key fishery-dependent indicators by replicating a 2008 study in 2016–2017 and comparing indicator values between years using multiple regression techniques. Indicators included spatially explicit species-level data for size, catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE), discard rate, sex composition, and trap location and depth across the heavily fished Santa Barbara Channel and Northern Channel Islands. Results showed significant declines in male size, overall CPUE, and proportion of crab landed versus discarded for heavily targeted stocks, translating to fewer pounds per trap and potential financial losses for fishers. Fishing and environmental conditions may have both contributed to stock declines. Evidence of decline differed substantially across space, species, and sex. We suggest that a spatially explicit and adaptive approach to empirically managing southern California rock crab may help to protect fishers from financial loss and avoid continued depletion of certain stocks, and we show that relatively simple collaborative approaches can provide defensible insight into complex systems.
The importance of institutions in structuring access to resources is well documented. However, despite the depth of the research, few studies have examined this systematically at the level of an individual fishing activity or, more specifically, within a women's fishery. This paper explores how fisherwomen access octopuses in a small-scale fishery in Mozambique, within a context where an increasing number of conservation initiatives are targeting women's fisheries and could potentially affect fisherwomen's access. The study was conducted within the Quirimbas National Park (QNP) in Cado Delgado, the northern most province of Mozambique. Combining ethnographic fieldwork and an institutional access map as a conceptual framework, this paper provides insight into the multiple institutions that structure how octopus fishing is organised and performed by fisherwomen. The access map reveals the dominant role local normative institutions play in influencing fisherwomen's access to income from fishing for octopus. Purdah, the religious practice of securing a woman's honour, is identified as a key restraining institution that is enforced through unequal gender relations. The paper encourages an understanding of the institutional context of fishing practices in order to promote access in small-scale fisheries (SSFs) to ensure fishers continue to benefit from the fishery in the face of management. The paper concludes that a greater appreciation of power relations – encapsulated in this study by gender relations – is required to further develop institutional analyses in small-scale fisheries policies and management.
In February and March 2017, a coastal El Niño caused extraordinary heavy rains and a rise in water temperatures along the coast of northern Peru. In this work, we document the impacts of this phenomenon on the artisanal fisheries and the scallop aquaculture sector, both of which represent important socio-economic activities for the province of Sechura. Despite the perceived absence of effective disaster management and rehabilitation policies, resource users opted for a wide range of different adaptation strategies and are currently striving towards recovery. One year after the event, the artisanal fisheries fleet has returned to operating almost on a normal scale, while the aquaculture sector is still drastically impacted, with many people continuing to work in different economic sectors and even in other regions of the country. Recovery of the social-ecological system of Sechura likely depends on the occurrence of scallop seed and the financial capacity of small-scale producers to reinitiate scallop cultures. Long-term consequences of this coastal El Niño are yet to be studied, though the need to develop trans-local and trans-sectoral management strategies for coping with disturbance events of this scale is emphasized.
Small-scale fisheries are facing increasing pressures due to overexploitation of resources, resulting in decreased fish stocks, biodiversity loss, and degradation of marine ecosystems. The unregulated open access conditions of these systems are considered a main driver of this context, leading to increasing calls for fisheries reform over the past decade. Belize is no exception, recently introducing a rights-based fisheries territorial system (Managed Access Program – MAP) aimed at incentivizing fisher ownership and stewardship of regions to promote sustainability. The implementation of managed access brings with it an interaction of actors and issues at the local and regional scale that raises questions about the feasibility and potential success of the program. In this paper, using a combination of literature review and semi-structured interviews with 54 fishers and 25 policymakers across Belize's fisheries sector, we provide a policy analysis of the MAP and review initial responses. We found the new system to be primarily a re-packaging of traditional fishing areas with unenforced regulations. Responses from stakeholders were varied around the implementation of the MAP, with the majority of references being negative in tone. While the introduction of MAP in Belize seeks to provide solutions to Belize's fisheries sector, questions remain around the ability of the MAP to meet its objectives.
Fisheries co-management is an increasingly globalized concept, and a cornerstone of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, adopted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization member states in 2014. Timor-Leste is a politically young country in the relatively rare position of having underexploited fisheries in some areas that can be leveraged to improve coastal livelihood outcomes and food and nutrition security. The collaborative and decentralized characteristics of co-management appeal to policymakers in Timor-Leste with provisions for co-management and customary laws applied to resource use were incorporated into state law in 2004 and again reinforced in 2012 revisions. The first fisheries co-management pilots have commenced where management arrangements have been codified through tara bandu, a process of setting local laws built around ritual practice that prohibits nominated activities under threat of spiritual and material sanctions. To date, however, there has been little critical evaluation of the suitability or potential effectiveness of co-management or tara bandu in the Timor-Leste fisheries context. To address this gap, we adapted the interactive governance framework to review the ecological, social and governance characteristics of Timor-Leste’s fisheries to explore whether co-management offers a valid and viable resource governance model. We present two co-management case studies and examine how they were established, who was involved, the local institutional structures, and the fisheries governance challenges they sought to address. Despite their relative proximity, the two sites contrasted in local ecology and fishery type; community institutions were starkly different but equally strong; and one site had tangible economic benefits to justify compliance, where the other had marginal and anecdotal fishery gains. In our review of the broader governance landscape in Timor-Leste, we see co-management as a useful mechanism to govern small-scale fisheries, but there is a need to connect legitimized local institutions with hierarchical governance of higher and external influences. Initial successes with implementing tara banduincorporating a small marine closure have stimulated other communities to implement no-take zones – one universally popular but very limited interpretation of co-management. However, we highlight the need for a set of guiding principles to ensure legitimate community engagement, and avoid external appropriation that may reinforce marginalization of certain user groups or customary power hierarchies.
This paper relates how fishermen in San Evaristo on Mexico’s Baja peninsula employ fabrications to strengthen bonds of trust and navigate the complexities of common pool resource extraction. We argue this trickery complicates notions of social capital in community-based natural resource management, which emphasize communitarianism in the form of trust. Trust, defined as a mutual dependability often rooted in honesty, reliable information, or shared expectations, has long been recognized as essential to common pool resource management. Despite this, research that takes a critical approach to social capital places attention on the activities that foster social networks and their norms by arguing that social capital is a process. A critical approach illuminates San Evaristeño practices of lying and joking across social settings and contextualizes these practices within cultural values of harmony. As San Evaristeños assert somewhat paradoxically, for them “lies build trust.” Importantly, a critical approach to this case study forces consideration of gender, an overlooked topic in social capital research. San Evaristeña women are excluded from the verbal jousting through which men maintain ties supporting their primacy in fishery management. Both men’s joke-telling and San Evaristeños’ aversion to conflict have implications for conservation outcomes. As a result, we use these findings to help explain local resistance to outsiders and external management strategies including land trusts, fishing cooperatives, and marine protected areas.
Since the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, several countries, funding organizations, environmental groups and research communities have pledged support and made commitment to help achieve these goals. SDG14: Life Below Water, for instance, has been embraced as the global goal for conservation and sustainable uses of the oceans, seas and marine resources. Among its many targets, SDG14b speaks directly to small-scale fisheries, calling for secured access to resources and markets for this sector. We argue that achieving SDG 14b requires a holistic approach encompassing several SDGs, including livelihoods, economic growth, community sustainability, strong institutions and partnerships. It is also important to align the SDG targets with the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines), as the mutuality that exists between the scope and nature of the two instruments can help guide the formulation of appropriate governance tools. Yet, the alignment of these two instruments alone does not guarantee sustainability of small-scale fisheries, especially without an official mandate from the governments. The case in point is the European Union where small-scale fisheries are not sufficiently recognized within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), despite being the largest sector (75% of the fleet). Through an examination of the CFP in the context of the SSF Guidelines and the SDGs, we discuss options and possibilities for inclusive consideration of small-scale fisheries in the upcoming policy reform, which might then lead to both achieving fisheries sustainability and the SDGs in the EU.