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Impacts of Institutional Changes and MPA Management to Indigenous Peoples' Livelihoods and Food Security in Southern Brazil

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: de Paula, Gabriela Silva; Medeiros, Rodrigo P.; Trimble, Micaela
Conference: Commons Amidst Complexity and Change, the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Conf. Date: May 25-29
Date: 2015
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9853
Sector: Fisheries
Social Organization
Region: South America
Subject(s): conservation
crab
fisheries
mangroves
Abstract: "Despite their relevance for biodiversity conservation, marine protected areas (MPAs) cause social impacts, such as loss of livelihood diversity. We evaluated how institutional changes related to fisheries and MPA management affected the livelihoods and food security of isolated and traditional fishing communities (the Caiçaras) in Parana, Southern Brazil. This study was conducted in collaboration with a fishing community (Almeida Island Village, Paranagua Bay) and the Brazilian Protected Area management agency (ICMBio), in order to support the development of strategies to alleviate the conflicts between the two. Data were collected between March and October 2014 through semi-structured surveys with 80 households (95% of total households), and three participatory workshops. Fishing is the main source of income and protein for all households. The swamp ghost crab (Ucides cordatus), captured with handcrafted traps, is the main target species. The harvest season lasts only for four months (austral summer) but represents the major source of revenue for the community. Almost all of the household members work in the fishery. Fishing grounds have been reduced since the creation of three MPAs in the 1980s and the expansion of port industries. All mangrove areas, where most of the fishing occurs, have become no-take zones. Fishers also consider the crab closed season and the fishing gear restrictions as a misfit with the local ecosystem dynamics. Compliance of these rules is low; fishers take the risk of being caught by surveillance agencies. Centralized institutional changes restricting fishing activities have caused the abandonment of traditional practices and a high dependency on social programs and government subsides. The loss of livelihood diversity in isolated and fishery-dependent communities can accelerate food insecurity and poverty traps, while also creating a long-term loss of ecological knowledge about mangroves. Our partnership with fishing communities and ICMBio provides some lessons to strengthen the science-practice-policy interface of fisheries and MPA management, taking into consideration the livelihoods of traditional peoples and their interconnection with the ecosystem dynamics."

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