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UBC Theses and Dissertations

How commoditization and cross-cultural values influence the sustainability of small-scale fisheries in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India Advani, Sahir


Globalization, notably through the international seafood trade and commoditization of marine resources, impacts the sustainability of small-scale fisheries and fisher livelihoods. Foremost amongst these impacts are changes in how fishing communities relate to and value marine resources and ecosystems. This dissertation explores the impacts of global seafood markets on the values of four cultural groups involved in fisheries in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI), India. The main aim of this research is to understand how cultural differences, settlement history, market accessibility, and involvement in fishing affect the values that communities ascribe to marine resources and the social-ecological sustainability of those interactions. The multicultural and historically complex nature of fisheries in the ANI provides a unique opportunity to study the variation in market integration and values ascribed to marine resources across different communities, space, and time. The socio-economic and socio-cultural values of four cultural groups that engage in small-scale fishing in the ANI underpin this research. Fish commoditization was examined through the names that respondents from various cultural groups used for commercially important marine species, with commoditized names being more likely to be used than vernacular names by individuals belonging to groups that settled more recently or that had more experience fishing or selling fish. While market access did not influence the likelihood of using commoditized names, shifts in economic value have adversely impacted the livelihoods and food security of certain cultural groups in the ANI. The value landscapes of the cultural groups in the ANI vary with settlement history, gender, occupation, and age. The fisheries that cultural groups engage in, here termed “cultural fisheries,” are influenced by their values, which in turn influence their fishing practices and sustainability. A Rapfish analysis modified for cultural fisheries found that indigenous subsistence fisheries are more sustainable than commercial fisheries in the ANI. The insights from this value-based research are synthesized as policy implications and recommendations for fisheries scientists, managers, and policymakers, as well as social-ecological advice for local communities.

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