In our recent article we use an agent-based model to explore the interplay between interventions that target both financial and trust building measures. We do so to investigate how transforming fishers’ self-organizing in patron-client relationships towards instead organizing in fishing cooperatives.
Many SSF face problems of overexploiatation and poverty calling for novel governance approaches that enhance human-wellbeing, equity and ecological sustainability. External policies and interventions to support such governance transformations, however, need to take their often self-governed nature into account. Common practices based on informal arrangements between different fishery actors can make existing, mal-adapted structures very persistent and hence difficult to overcome.
Here we combine multi-method empirical research on SSF in Mexico with agent-based modeling to analyze if and under which conditions interventions can shift ongoing self-organizing dynamics into directions that support the new governance form. We are particularly interested in the effectiveness of two different types of interventions, financial and social, and their performance under variable social and ecological conditions as commonly found in SSF (Fig. 1).
Our analysis reveals that a combination of financial and social support during extended periods of time is necessary to ensure persistence of new governance forms in face of competition with established forms, as well as environmental uncertainty (Fig. 2B) and social uncertainty (Fig. 2CD).
The findings highlight the importance of understanding the endogenous self-organizing dynamics created by the interplay between social (e.g. the dynamics of trust) and ecological (e.g. resource dynamics) processes in order to devise policies and measures to initiate a shift towards more sustainable pathways.
Citation: Schlüter, M., E. Lindkvist, and X. Basurto. 2021. The interplay between top-down interventions and bottom-up self-organization shapes opportunities for transforming self-governance in small-scale fisheries. Marine Policy:104485.
An idea emerged when MAREA researchers met at the Darling Marine Center in Maine in 2018 during a project workshop. Amazed by the high-resolution of the “Small-Scale Fisheries database” curated by the Coasts and Commons Co-Lab at Duke University, which comprises records from the trip tickets reported by Small-Scale Fisheries in Baja California Sur, we decided to start exploring ways in which such data could help us better understand diversification patterns in fisheries. More than two years later, we can see one of the results of this effort published in the paper “Spatial diversification as a mechanism to adapt to environmental changes in small-scale fisheries”. The new article is led by myself and co-authored by several researchers from the MAREA team, including Emilie Lindkvist, Alfredo Giron-Nava, Tim H. Frawley, Mateja Nenadovic, Xavier Basurto and Maja Schlüter, as well as Örjan Bodin from the Stockholm Resilience Center. Throughout the process, this paper benefited from several discussions with the broader MAREA team, researchers at the UABC (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California) and colleagues at the Stockholm Resilience Center, and we are thankful for the contributions of each and one of them, which were key to synthesize, analyze and interpret the vast information that we could compile about fisheries diversification in Baja California Sur.
In this paper “We explore environmental and institutional factors mediating how patterns of spatial diversification (i.e., utilization of alternative fishing grounds) and target species diversification change over time. Using small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur (Mexico) as a case study, we adopt a social-ecological network approach to conduct a spatially explicit analysis of fisheries landings data (2008–2016). This approach quantifies relative patterns of diversification, and when combined with a qualitative analysis of existing literature, enables us to illuminate institutional and environmental factors that may influence diversification strategies. Our results indicate that interannual changes in spatial diversification are correlated with regional oceanographic change, while illustrating the heterogeneity and dynamism of diversification strategies. Rather than acting in isolation, we hypothesize that environmental drivers likely operate in combination with existing fisheries regulations and local socioeconomic context to mediate spatial diversification. We argue that small-scale fisheries policies need to better account such linkages as we move towards an increasingly variable environment. Overall, our results highlight spatial diversification as a dynamic process and constitute an important step towards understanding and managing the complex mechanisms through which environmental changes affect small-scale fisheries.” González-Mon et al. (2021, p.1)
We hope you enjoy the publication!
Citation: Gonzalez-Mon, B., Bodin, Ö., Lindkvist, E., Frawley, T. H., Giron-Nava, A., Basurto, X., Nenadovic M., and Schlüter, M. Spatial diversification as a mechanism to adapt to environmental changes in small-scale fisheries. Environmental Science & Policy, 116, 246-257. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2020.11.006
In early March 2020, MAREA researchers met in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico with several key fisheries and marine management groups. Participants include representatives from the Baja California Sur (BCS) state government, the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protejidas (CONANP, the National Park Service), the Instituto Nacional de Pesca (INAPESCA, the research arm of the national fisheries commission), and leaders from Federación Regional de Sociedades Cooperativas Pesqueras (FEDECOOP, a federation of fishing cooperatives in BCS), as well as MAREA team members Heather Leslie (University of Maine), Kara Pellowe (UMaine and Stockholm Resilience Center), Mateja Nenadovic (Duke University), Salvador Rodriguez Van Dyck (Niparaja) and Amy Hudson Weaver (Niparaja).
Identifying Distinct Social-Ecological Regions
The meetings started with a brief presentation by Mateja on the regionalization work conducted by MAREA. Our goal is to characterize distinct social-ecological regions associated with small-scale fisheries across BCS, so as to contribute information and tools that can be used for more targeted fisheries management and marine conservation.
In 2013-2015, we synthesized environmental, economic and social data to characterize distinct areas where small-scale fisheries operate within BCS. We then identified associations among different factors known to contribute to environmental sustainability. The results were published in PNAS in 2015.
Thanks to support of the US National Science Foundation, since 2016, we have expanded our dataset on small-scale fisheries connections to include 66 communities and 711 economic units (i.e, cooperatives and firms) in BCS.
These conversations were an opportunity for fisheries managers, scientists and fishermen themselves to share their thoughts on the usefulness of what our team has done to date and on our future work to better address their needs. The discussion was guided by several questions:
From your perspective as a manager, scientist or fisherman, is it useful to think about regional differences?
If so, are the regions we’ve identified similar to those you would identify?
What are your sector’s objectives for fisheries management?
What information are you missing and in what formats are scientific information like ours most useful?
Key Themes – Diverse Objectives and Tools
Participants from state and federal government and the fisheries sectors reflected on the different objectives they are pursuing related to BCS’ fisheries. Baja California Sur state government representatives spoke of supporting fishermen. CONANP representatives, responsible for managing the national parks in the region, spoke about ecosystem conservation and restoration, including in areas where small-scale fisheries are important. Fisheries scientists from INAPESCA focused on stock and species-specific goals. Representatives of FEDECOOP, the federation of fishing cooperatives, highlighted the importance of understanding the ecology of targeted species, in order to develop measures that sustain the region’s fisheries.
As individuals from these different institutional perspectives shared their objectives, they also were invoking different regulatory and community-based tools to achieve them. This is perhaps not surprising, given the diverse organizational mandates and individual worldviews represented by this group. But it was still striking how distinct the perspectives were that were expressed over the four days.
National park representatives spoke about the importance of management approaches, like regionalization, to be codified in in legislation. Fisheries scientists expressed skepticism about the value of ecosystem-based approaches, given their current focus on species-specific goals. Fishing cooperative representatives highlighted the value of changing the current licensing system, as well as how fisheries data are collected, so as to better align incentives of government, scientists, and fishermen themselves to sustain BCS’ fisheries.
Overall, the conversations left us thinking about how much perspectives on fisheries objectives and tools vary in Baja California Sur. We appreciated the generosity of each individual who took the time to speak with us. We also were encouraged by the offers to hold additional meetings, once results of our current work are available. We look forward to continuing to explore how to make this work useful to those involved in resource use and management in BCS and beyond.
A year and a half ago, when two members of the MAREA team; Andrew F. Jonsson and Blanca Gonzalez-Mon were visiting me at Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) to work on an agent-based modeling paper, there was a call out for papers on the topic “Small-Scale and Artisanal Fisheries: Insights and Approaches for Improved Governance and Management in a Globalized Context”. In the dungeon room at SRC where we were hanging out working on MAREA work about sequential exploitation of fish resources in the Gulf of California – the idea of a paper was formed targeted to the special issue. The idea we submitted was based on our own discussions and confusions on why and what is really the usefulness of agent-based modeling for the research, governance, and management of small-scale fisheries.
Through different working constellations within the author team, including six members of the MAREA team, two additional SRC collaborators, and one from CSIRO in Australia, the paper moved from idea to reality in just a few, sweaty months to meet the deadline of the special issue. While myself and Nanda Wijermans drove the paper, the knowledge of the whole author team was critical. Because some authors had worked previously on agent-based projects, or other modeling projects, and on both small- and large-scale fisheries, we were able to differentiate and pick out the nuances of why agent-based modeling has the potential for being such a great fit for investigating the many urgent management and governance issues today in small-scale fisheries.The final paper that emerged from our discussions is entitled, “Navigating Complexities: Agent-Based Modeling to Support Research, Governance, and Management in Small-Scale Fisheries”. In this paper;
”We elaborate on the untapped potential of agent-based modeling (ABM) to tackle complex governance and management challenges in Small-scale fisheries (SSF). We first outline what ABM is and how the development process of an agent-based model may take place. We present a short review of SSF publications that use ABMs, detail three challenges for SSF management and governance, and use examples from our review to illustrate how ABMs have been used to help address them. We end with a discussion on the potential usefulness of ABM to address contemporary SSF challenges and discuss what is needed to unlock this potential. The intended audience of this paper are those interested in having more tools available to address SSF management and governance issues and questions that relate to complexity, those curious about using ABM, and those who design, manage, or participate in ABM projects.” Lindkvist et al. (2020, p.2)
Citation: Lindkvist, E., Wijermans, N., Daw, T. M., Gonzalez-Mon, B., Giron-Nava, A., Johnson, A. F., van Putten, I., Basurto, X., Schlüter, M. (2020). Navigating Complexities: Agent-Based Modeling to Support Research, Governance, and Management in Small-Scale Fisheries. Frontiers in Marine Science 6, 733. doi:10.3389/fmars.2019.00733.
By Kara Pellowe, Blanca Gonzalez, and Emilie Lindkvist.
On Monday, October 21st, 2019, at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) in Stockholm, Sweden, Emilie Lindkvist, Blanca González, and Kara Pellowe presented on the work of the MAREA research group to Martha Delgado Peralta, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights from Mexico City, Mexico. Also in attendance at the presentation were Francisco del Río, Ambassador at the Embassy of Mexico in Sweden, and Mariana Ramírez González, Third Secretary of Cultural, Cooperation and Press Affairs at the Embassy of Mexico in Sweden, as well as Line Gordon, Director of the SRC, and Henrik Österblom, Deputy Science Director of the SRC.
The presentation was an opportunity to distill our findings of the various projects focused on small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur. These resulted from the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded MAREA research group, in collaboration with other projects such as MuSES, an SRC-based project funded by the European Research Council. We took this opportunity to connect our work to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are of particular interest to Martha Delgado, and others in her office. Martha Delgado is also the former Minister of the Environment for Mexico City, and has worked at the intersection of the environment and sustainable development for almost 20 years.
Our presentation was entitled, “Adaptation in a changing world: Small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur”. Together, we introduced the interdisciplinary and international scope of the MAREA group, and highlighted the importance of small-scale fisheries in the context of the global seafood trade, as well as the economies of Mexico and the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. We framed our work in the context of the social-ecological systems (SES) framework, and described how we use the framework to study and understand human-biosphere interactions within and across scales. We study small-scale fisheries as SESs in the context of a variable environment, and we presented three main findings from our work in Baja California Sur:
First, diversification is key for adaptation to change. Actors diversify in a number of ways, including fishing multiple species, moving across distant locations throughout the year, and maintaining alternate sources of income. These types of diversification help fishers to adapt to environmental and market variability.
Second, we exemplified through different cases how the ability to diversify is influenced by formal fisheries policies.
Third, we find that informal forms of organization (e.g. trade networks, fishing cooperatives) and local norms matter for how people interact with the biosphere and adapt to change.
We ended the presentation by linking our work to the SDGs. The insights gained from our work on small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur are relevant to the design of policies that support human and environmental well-being, and we hope that our work will contribute to policies that alleviate poverty, ensure individual wellbeing and livelihoods, enable sustainable food production, and protect ecological health.
During our last meeting as a group in Maine, we came up with the idea to share our work with the local fisheries authorities in Baja California Sur, with the intention of informing them about the research we have been doing in the state, and to express our willingness to collaborate on efforts to improve the sustainability of fisheries in Mexico. We invited federal and state government representatives from CONAPESCA, INAPESCA, SEPADA and CONANP, as well as a fisheries researcher from CICIMAR. Our invitation was met with many positive responses, and attendance at the joint meeting was higher than expected.
Amy Hudson Weaver opened the meeting by welcoming the attendees and giving a brief overview of the significance of the meeting to the MAREA group. Dr. Xavier Basurto opened the presentation section with a large-scale view of the MAREA research group, touching on the global and interdisciplinary nature of the team, and explaining our general focus. Our research is centered around the social-ecological systems perspective, in which resource users (e.g., fishers), institutions e.g., (state management agencies, as well as small-scale institutions, like cooperatives), interact with resource units (e.g., fish) and the marine ecosystem, to influence results at the system-scale. Some of the research questions the MAREA group works to answer include:
How does the organization of fishing activities affect capture?
How does the organization of fishing activities affect human well-being in fishing communities?
How does environmental variation affect fisheries?
As a group, we have conducted in-depth studies in 22 fishing communities in Baja California Sur, and we have collected data from 66 fishing communities. Next, Kara and Tim each shared a deeper look at their case studies in Loreto, and Santa Rosalia, respectively.
Kara Pellowe, PhD Candidate at the University of Maine, shared with the group the research she has pursued for her doctoral work. She spoke on her approach to studying the social-ecological system associated with Loreto Bay National Park’s chocolate clam fishery, using an interdisciplinary case study approach. She combined ecological and field studies to understand how ecological and social factors interact to affect the sustainability of the chocolate clam fishery. She found that the fishery social-ecological system is characterized by diverse actors, and that fisheries management affects not only fishers, but the entire community. Kara closed her presentation with a reminder that a deep understanding of social-ecological system dynamics, which enables us to understand both the biological and social aspects of fisheries, requires an interdisciplinary approach.
Dr. Tim Frawley, Stanford University, shared his research investigating the causes and social impacts of the collapse of the squid fishery in Santa Rosalia in 2014. Tim studied fishermen’s observations and thoughts on why the crash occurred. Biophysical trends indicate a clear correlation between the squid fishery collapse and El Niño cycles; changes in water temperature in the Gulf of California appear to have interrupted the migration route of squid across the Gulf between Guaymas and Santa Rosalía, most likely resulting in the observed collapse of the fishery. However, Tim highlighted the importance not only of investigating the biophysical causes of the crash, but also the factors fishers perceived as drivers of the crash. Fishers in Santa Rosalía did not agree on the causes of the crash, but their perspectives resulted in a typology of fishers among those Tim interviewed: pescadores, pilotos, and especialistas. Pescadores are often long-time fishers with a family tradition of fishing, engage in continuous fishing effort, and have their own permits and equipment. On the other end of the spectrum, especialistas are often contracted, have irregular fishing effort, are first generation fishers, and migrate between fishing ports seasonally for contract work. These two divergent types also respond differently to major changes like the loss of the squid fishery. Tim closed by emphasizing the importance of the interactions between fisher and fished species, and the value of research that closely examines those links.
Dr. Mateja Nenadovic closed the meeting by describing the metadata of the MAREA project, including emphasizing that the deep social-ecological knowledge described in the examples given by Kara and Tim, are just two of 22 communities in which the MAREA group has undertaken in-depth studies, and two of 66 for which we have data. Mateja went on to describe the types of ecological, social, economic, and institutional data the group collected in both 2014 and 2019. In 2014 data collected focused on 13 characteristics of governance, the fishing sector, fishing resources, and ecosystem variables. In 2019, the breadth and depth of these data was expanded to include 124 variables. We also have more information about the movement of fish and fishers, via Blanca Gonzalez’ work studying fishing networks throughout BCS. Mateja closed by inviting the scientists and managers in attendance to share their thoughts on the information shared. He also expressed the group’s interest in engaging in productive conversations about what types of information would be useful to BCS-based researchers and managers, and what they would like to learn more about.
A conversation between managers, scientists, and the MAREA group followed. Managers agreed with the information shared during the presentations. The sub-secretary of fisheries in the state said, “We live sometimes in a bubble and we are interested in different views from the outside”. A researcher from INAPESCA added that having this information is important to decision-making, because it would allow them to make decisions without having to rely on “feelings”. Among the group was the president of a federation representing fishermen. He highlighted the need for formal agreements between between research groups like MAREA, and federal and state agencies, as well as others, to make the best of this kind of collaboration. In general, the attendees expressed interest in what was covered, and in particular, emphasized the value of including socioeconomic data in fisheries management.
I would like to share with you our most recent study published in the journal Fish and Fisheries from a collaboration between the Gulf of California Marine Program and the University of British Columbia the publication “Managing at Maximum Sustainable Yield does not ensure economic well-being for artisanal fishers”
This study shows that in some regions of the Gulf of California, even if fishers used the most efficient and sustainable known practices, they wouldn’t generate enough revenue to maintain a living above poverty levels in the long-term (FIGURE 1).
Our study also found that about two-thirds of the small-scale fisheries in the region present some degree of overexploitation, and that if completely recovered and exploited sustainably, they could generate $240 million USD per year, as compared to the current $141 million USD per year. This would not be enough to provide fishers with enough money for food, education, health and clothing.
We aren’t saying that the take-home message of the paper is that the only solution to achieve sustainable fisheries is to have fewer fishers, but we believe that definitely this message needs to be part of the conversation, along with other social problems. These other issues include marginalization of coastal communities and lax or inconsistent enforcement of sustainable practices.
With this research we aim to alert different actor across the fisheries sector about the importance of recognizing the economic ceiling of fisheries, and to develop not only other economic strategies, also social strategies that will allow for the well-being of coastal communities.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me or Alfredo Giron (jgironna @ ucsd . edu) if you have any questions, comments, or you need the the supplementary materials.
As part of the “Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development” master’s program at the Stockholm Resilience Center, MAREA tema member Blanca González García-Mon studied theseafood flow from marine ecosystems through fish buyers and to different market demands. The study mapped a finfish supply chain in Baja California Sur that spans from actors such as fishers in rural fishing communities, to diverse market demands (e.g. local or international markets). An intense period working with the Datamares team followed this study, where the challenge was to design a story and an inforgram able to communicate the complexity of this trading system. As a results, a story has been featured in the Datamares webpage, summarizing some key findings of the study.
During a few snowy weeks in March MAREA member Andrew Johnson from Scripps came to continue the joint projects with the SRC team. Over three intense weeks we developed our two main papers building on our collective knowledge and skills. In the first paper we explore how changes in fisher’s ability to move across longer distances can potentially lead to sequential exploitation of local fish resources, and the drivers behind fishers’ mobility. In a second paper we will explore how cross-scale interactions between local and regional fish are mediated by fishers mobility and the outcomes for social and ecological indicators. Our workshop also involved Alfredo Gíron-Nava at Scripps for data crunching and SRC team leader Maja Schlüter for overall input to our ideas.
The resulting papers in progress are
Increased mobility and resource heterogeneity drive patterns of fisheries collapse
Cross-scale interactions between local and regional fisheries: Implications for local fishing communities.
During Andrew’s visit Emilie organized a 2-day workshop together with Steven Alexander (SESYNC; University of Waterloo) on untangling interactions in social-ecological systems using small-scale fisheries as a case. Together MAREA team members Emilie, Andrew and Blanca we aim to publish a paper on Illuminating interactions, relationships, and dynamics in fisheries: methodological approaches to tackle contemporary sustainability questions in fisheries, as a part of the MAREA project.
In the recent paper “Seasonal variability shapes resilience of small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico” by Kara Pellowe and Heather Leslie from the University of Maine, historical landings data is used to look at how ecosystem properties, that contribute to resilience, vary both seasonally and spatially within Baja California Sur.
Their finding of significant spatial and seasonal variability in ecological resilience indicators suggests the importance of small-scale spatial and temporal dynamics in shaping the fisheries of this region, as they shape fishers’ everyday experiences (Fig 1). The paper also highlights the value of finer-scale monitoring and management, particularly for data-poor fisheries.