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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Territorial use-rights in fishing (TURFs) and the management of small-scale fisheries : the case of Lake Titicaca (Peru) Levieil, Dominique P.


The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate whether the Territorial Use-Rights in Fishing (TURFs) of Lake Titieaca, Peru, are effective in overcoming the common property problem of typical fisheries and therefore whether TURFs may prove valuable as part of a more formal management system. It has recently been argued that TURFs should be incorporated into small-scale fisheries management schemes since they should be effective in controlling fishing effort, in promoting a more equitable distribution of the benefits from fishing and in reducing administrative inefficiencies. To determine whether TURFs are in fact effective in controlling fishing effort, I examine Lake Titieaca fisheries in Peru. First, I demonstrate the widespread existence of Lake Titicaca's TURFs and their control over the entire shoreline, most of the littoral area and even part of the pelagic area. Second, I document how, in spite of TURFs' illegality, Lake Titieaca shore dwellers are able to combine legal and illegal means to enforce their traditional rights over their fishing areas. Third, by showing that the relative difference between the returns to labour from fishing with those from alternative activities ranges from 50 to more than 100%, I demonstrate that local fishermen capture substantial fishing rents. If one takes into account that most fishing activities are carried out when there is little else to do, this range increases to 90-180%. I thus conclude that Lake Titieaca fisheries have not reached their bioeconomic equilibrium yet and that the predictions of the common property theory do not apply to them. And fourth, I demonstrate that the origins of these rents can be traced to fishermen's membership in TURF-holding communities, their ability to restrict physical access to the shoreline, and the obligations associated with this membership. Among these obligations are the participation in communal projects and celebrations, the fulfillment of administrative or ceremonial responsibilities, and the undertaking of agricultural activities, all of which constrain the amount of household labour available for fishing. In the concluding section, I consider the potential role of TURFs in a formal management context. I show that, in the long term, even formally recognized TURFs would not be sufficient in themselves to prevent overfishing. I therefore propose that Lake Titieaca TURFs be incorporated into a broader, decentralized management strategy which would capitalize on their strengths and promote cooperation between members of shore communities, fisheries scientists and administrators.

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