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Fishing strategies of small-scale fishers and their implications for fisheries management Salas, S. (Silvia)

Abstract

A comparative study was undertaken to evaluate the fishing strategies of small-scale fishers from three ports in Yucatan, Mexico. Fishers from the area exploit the same resources and are constrained by similar regulations and environmental conditions, so it could be expected that they would use similar fishing strategies. However, the results show differences among and within ports in catch profiles and strategies, which are: switching behavior, changes in fishing efficiency, and-working in cooperation teams. Although some fishers claimed to specialize in lobsters, switching behavior between alternative species was commonly observed in all three ports throughout the year. To test hypotheses associated with switching behavior, I used a discrete choice model. The results indicate that fishers' decisions were not randomly defined; resource abundance and revenues from the previous trip were significant in the selection of target species for the following trip. Differences among fishers were evident in terms of fishing efficiency and fishers' performance. In Sisal, fishers appeared to be more homogeneous than in other ports. However, in Dzilam Bravo, differences between the more efficient fishers and the 'average' were tenfold. Multiple regression analysis showed that catch rates and landed values were associated with the number of trips undertaken within a fishing season in all ports. In the other ports, fishers' experience, fishers' age, boat size, and motor power were also associated with this variation. A distinct strategy observed only in Dzilam Bravo was cooperation among fishers, where two or more fishers equally shared their catches. This strategy appears to be adopted in response to uncertain weather conditions. To summarise the results, I present a conceptual framework that illustrates how knowledge of fishing strategies could help managers to incorporate fishers' dynamics into the design of management schemes. The results of the analyses undertaken in this study indicate that current management regulations in Yucatan could be misleading since they do not account for fishers' strategies. I stress the importance of evaluating fishers' strategies as they can provide useful information for fine-tuning models in fisheries assessment, help in the implementation of development programs in fishing communities, and provide inputs for management plans.

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