Today artisanal fishers working in Natura 2000 coastal protected sites face two major types of change: in marine resources, and the governance of their professions. Such transformations affect fishers’ livelihoods, identities and traditions, yet little is known about how these professionals elaborate on these changes – i.e., as continuities or discontinuities - in the narratives they produce as a group. Interviews and focus-groups with artisanal fishers and shellfish harvesters (n = 36) from the Portuguese Southwest coast were subjected to a two-step analysis. First, a textual analysis with Iramuteq helped select the themes directly related to marine resources and governance. Second, three main narratives - on algae, barnacles and fish - were reconstructed. These were then explored regarding: (1) narrative formats (stability, regressive, progressive, mixed); (2) whether/how these formats elaborated changes as continuities or discontinuities; (3) the roles attributed to Self and Others, and whether and how these legitimized the laws, opening avenues for change; and (4) whether narratives were unified or fragmented. This study illustrates how transformations are presented through various combinations of narrative formats, sometimes mobilized to resist and other times to legitimate legal institutional change. It shows how institutional change can be integrated into local narratives as a positive contribution through a process that implies re-constructing the collective identity and local traditions. Through a narrative approach, this paper offers an integrated examination of fishers’ concerns towards their professions and the laws regulating them, and provides useful insight into how and when marine governance is more/less likely to be legitimized.
The most basic level of artisanal fisheries is represented by hand-collecting, which is highly selective and widely recognized as having minimal impact on the environment. Nevertheless, there are some concerns that hand-collecting fisheries have the potential to negatively affect marine environments. We assessed the potential impacts of hookah diving for the pen shell Atrina maura, a hand-collecting fishery, in the Gulf of California, México. In situ observations revealed high sediment resuspension and Atrina shell remains widespread on the rhodolith bed where they are collected (‘fishery’ site), and on a nearby shallow sedimentary habitat where fishermen dump empty shells and tissue remains (‘polluted’ site). Structural complexity (i.e. size, shape and degree of branching) of rhodoliths at the fishery site were lower than previous reports in the area, while high mud and organic matter content was characteristic of the polluted site. Comparisons of faunal samples at the polluted site and control site showed that while faunal density and taxa abundance was greater at the polluted site, taxa evenness and Shannon's diversity indices were greater at the control site. Faunal abundance was highest for detritivorous gastropods (e.g. Cerithiidae, Caecidae) and bivalves tolerant to muddy substrata with potential low oxygen conditions (e.g. Thyasiridae), as well as deposit-feeding polychaetes (e.g. Flabelligeridae, Cirratulidae) at the polluted site. This study suggests impacts of artisanal hand-collecting fisheries on the benthos can be more severe than previously assumed and highlights the need to devise and implement adequate fishing education and management programs to protect benthic resources and the livelihood of local fishermen.
Socio-economic development of small-island fishing communities is greatly dependent on local coastal and marine resources. However, illegal fishing and aggressive practices in insular ecosystems lead to over-exploitation and environmental deterioration. Moreover, a lack of scientific data increases uncertainty and prevents the adequate monitoring of marine resources. This paper focuses on the integration of local fishing communities into decision-making processes with the aim of promoting artisanal fishing on the Island of Tenerife (the Canary Islands), as a way to preserve the marine ecosystem and socio-economic development of traditional cofradias (fishers' organisations). A qualitative methodological framework, based on participatory problem-solution trees and focus groups, was used to identify the main factors impeding the sustainable development of the artisanal fishing sector on the island and to elaborate collective proposals with policy implications. The fishing community involved identified four main issues that are maintaining an unsustainable island fishery: 1) Over-exploitation; 2) Poor self-management of cofradias and commercialisation problems; 3) Fisher individualism and low co-management strategies, and 4) Illegal fishing increase vs. artisanal fishing decline. Results show the required policy enhancements to tackle them and the need to adapt regulations to the local situation.
Although, the involvement of artisanal fishing communities in conservation and management is now commonplace, their participation rarely goes beyond providing local and traditional knowledge to visiting scientists and managers. Communities are often excluded from ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and decision-making, even though these measures can have tremendous impacts on their livelihoods. For the past 17 years, we have designed, tested, and implemented a community-based monitoring model in three key marine ecosystems in Mexico: the kelp forests of Pacific Baja California, the rocky reefs of the Gulf of California, and the coral reefs of the Mesoamerican Reef System. This model is intended to engage local fishers in data collection by fulfilling two principal objectives: (1) to achieve science-based conservation and management decisions and (2) to improve livelihoods through access to knowledge and temporary employment. To achieve these goals, over 400 artisanal fishers and community members have participated in a nationwide marine reserve program. Of these, 222 fishers, including 30 women, have been trained to conduct an underwater visual census using SCUBA gear, and, to date, over 12,000 transects have been completed. Independent scientists periodically evaluate the training process and standards, and the data contribute to international monitoring efforts. This successful model is now being adopted by both civil society and government for use in different parts of Mexico and neighbouring countries. Empowering community members to collect scientific data creates responsibility, pride, and a deeper understanding of the ecosystem in which they live and work, providing both social and ecological benefits to the community and marine ecosystem.
The Philippines has had a long and evolving history in marine tenure and marine resource management. This ranges from traditional tenure rights to some of the first community based fisheries tenure systems in the world to a legal system which supports marine tenure. Secure marine tenure and improved governance are enabling conditions for supporting sustainable small-scale fisheries to meet multiple development objectives. This article provides an overview of the Philippines context for marine tenure and small-scale fisheries. The article discusses both government and non-governmental initiatives on marine tenure. Recommendations are made to strengthen the current legal, policy and practical context of marine tenure in the Philippines in order to support sustainable small-scale fisheries.
Bycatch of marine megafauna by small-scale fisheries is of growing global concern. The southeastern Pacific sustains extensive fisheries that are important sources of food and employment for millions of people. Mismanagement, however, jeopardizes the sustainability of ecosystems and vulnerable species. We used survey questionnaires to assess the impact of small-scale gillnet fisheries on sea turtles across 3 nations (Ecuador, Peru and Chile), designed to fill data gaps and identify priority areas for future conservation work. A total of 765 surveys from 43 small-scale fishing ports were obtained (Ecuador: n = 379 fishers, 7 ports; Peru: n = 342 fishers, 30 ports; Chile: n = 44 fishers, 6 ports). The survey coverage in study harbors was 28% for Ecuador, 37.0% for Peru, and 62.7% for Chile. When these survey data are scaled up across the fleets within surveyed ports, the resulting estimate of total annual bycatch across the study harbors is 46 478 turtles; where Ecuador is 40 480, Peru 5 828 and Chile 170 turtles. Estimated mortality rates vary markedly between countries (Ecuador: 32.5%; Peru 50.8%; Chile 3.2%), leading to estimated lethal takes of 13 225, 2 927, and 6 turtles for Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, respectively. These estimates are remarkably large given that the ports surveyed constitute only 16.4, 41, and 22% of the national gillnet fleets in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, respectively. Limited data from observer-based surveys in Peru suggest that information from surveys are reliable and still informative. Information from surveys clearly highlight Ecuador and Peru as priority areas for future work to reduce turtle bycatch, particularly given the status of regional populations such as leatherback and hawksbill turtles.
Small-scale fisheries are in decline, negatively impacting sources of food and employment for coastal communities. Therefore, we need to assess how biological and socio-economic conditions influence vulnerability, or a community's susceptibility to loss and consequent ability to adapt. We characterized two Philippine fishing communities, Gulod and Buagsong with similar seagrass and fish species composition, and compared their social vulnerability, or pre-existing conditions likely to influence their response to changes in the fishing resource. Using a place-based model of vulnerability, we used household, fisher, landing and underwater surveys to compare their sensitivity and adaptive capacity.
Depending on the scale assessed, each community and group within the community differed in their social vulnerability. The Buagsong community was less socially vulnerable, or less sensitive to pertubations to the seagrass resource because it was closer to a major urban center that provided salaried income. When we assessed seagrass fishers as a group within each community, we found that Gulod fishers had greater adaptive capacity than Buagsong fishers because they diversified their catch, gear types, and income sources. We found catch that comprised the greatest landing biomass did not have the highest market value, and fishers continued to capture high value items at low biomass levels. A third of intertidal gleaners were women, and their participation in the fishery enhanced household adaptive capacity by providing additional food and income, in an otherwise male-dominated fishery.
Our research indicates that community context is not the only determinant of social vulnerability, because groups within the community may decrease their sensitivity, enhance their adaptive capabilities, and ultimately reduce social vulnerability by diversifying income sources, seagrass based catches, and workforces to include women.
Sustainable fisheries require strong management and effective governance. However, small-scale fisheries (SFF) often lack formal institutions, leaving management in the hands of local users in the form of various governance approaches (e.g., local, traditional, or co-management). The effectiveness of these approaches inherently relies upon some level of cohesion among resource users to facilitate agreement on common policies and practices regarding common pool fishery resources. Understanding the factors driving the formation and maintenance of community cohesion in SSF is therefore critical if we are to devise more effective participatory governance approaches and encourage and empower decentralized, localized, and community-based resource management approaches. Here, we adopt a social relational network perspective to propose a suite of hypothesized drivers that lead to the establishment of social ties among fishers that build the foundation for community cohesion. We then draw on detailed data from Jamaica’s small-scale fishery to empirically test these drivers by employing a set of nested exponential random graph models (ERGMs) based on specific structural building blocks (i.e., network configurations) theorized to influence the establishment of social ties. Our results demonstrate that multiple drivers are at play, but that collectively, gear-based homophily, geographic proximity, and leadership play particularly important roles. We discuss the extent to which these drivers help explain previous experiences, as well as their implications for future and sustained collective action in SSF in Jamaica and elsewhere.
Small-scale fisheries (SSFs) constitute a critical socioeconomic sector by providing a source of income and animal protein for fishing communities worldwide. In Uruguay this sector has traditionally been neglected. More recently, the Uruguayan government has shown an increasing interest in readdressing this situation by setting a high-level policy for SSFs. This paper addresses the long-term process from conceptualization to operationalization of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in Uruguayan SSFs. An overview of the social-ecological enabling conditions that facilitated EAF operationalization across four pilot sites is also provided. Long-term results showed that the intrinsic characteristics of each fishery conditioned the goals achieved. Fishery systems with more favorable enabling conditions served as starting points for operationalizing an EAF strategy. By contrast, SSFs with historical conflicts of use and a complex relationship between the fisheries management agency and fishing communities are still challenging. These results were used as learning platforms to strength and enhance the normative framework regarding management of SSFs. Progresses in EAF implementation at pilot sites have provided initial building blocks for scaling practices to other Uruguayan SSFs. The translation of processes and results into the long-term fishery policy allowed establishing an appropriate legal basis for further EAF development at a national level. Despite the above, long-term political will is critical for sustaining responsible fishing practices and the involvement of fishers as stewardships of their own activity.
Locally sustainable resource extraction activities, at times, transform into ecologically detrimental enterprises. Understanding such transitions is a primary challenge for conservation and management of many ecosystems. In marine systems, over-exploitation of small-scale fisheries creates problems such as reduced biodiversity and lower catches. However, long-term documentation of how governance and associated changes in fishing gears may have contributed to such declines is often lacking. Using fisher interviews, we characterized fishing gear dynamics over 60 years (1950–2010) in a coral reef ecosystem in the Philippines subject to changing fishing regulations. In aggregate fishers greatly diversified their use of fishing gears. However, most individual fishers used one or two gears at a time (mean number of fishing gears < 2 in all years). Individual fishing effort (days per year) was fairly steady over the study period, but cumulative fishing effort by all fishers increased 240%. In particular, we document large increases in total effort by fishers using nets and diving. Other fishing gears experienced less pronounced changes in total effort over time. Fishing intensified through escalating use of non-selective, active, and destructive fishing gears. We also found that policies promoting higher production over sustainability influenced the use of fishing gears, with changes in gear use persisting decades after those same policies were stopped. Our quantitative evidence shows dynamic changes in fishing gear use over time and indicates that gears used in contemporary small-scale fisheries impact oceans more than those used in earlier decades.