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The Role of Collective Action in the Social-Ecological Resilience of Mangroves and Artisanal Fisheries on the Ecuadorian Coast

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Beitl, Christine
Conference: Capturing the Complexity of the Commons, North American Regional Meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Arizona State University, Tempe AZ
Conf. Date: Sep. 30-Oct. 2
Date: 2010
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6556
Sector: Fisheries
Region: South America
Subject(s): sustainability
collective action
social-ecological systems
artisanal fishing
Abstract: "The conversion of coastal mangrove wetlands for shrimp farming has threatened artisanal fisheries and the social-ecological resilience of coastal communities worldwide. This paper examines the role of collective action and common property institutional arrangements in the sustainable harvest of mangrove cockles (Anadara spp.) and the social-ecological resilience of Ecuadorian coastal communities. Since the early 1990s on the Ecuadorian coast, grassroots movements in defense of livelihoods and the environment have consolidated into new civil society organizations after decades of mangrove deforestation for the expansion of shrimp farming. To varying degrees of success, they are engaged in mangrove restoration, monitoring, and management, sometimes in collaboration with government agencies. Two kinds of collective action problems are examined: subtraction (how much is harvested) and contribution (how people differentially participate in and uphold local management regimes). Data collection strategies include: 1) observations 2) semi-structured interviews 3) mapping 4) oral case histories 5) surveys and 6) catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE). Through the unique triangulation of ethnographic, survey, and CPUE data, the explicit link between social and ecological systems is examined at two different levels to determine how collective action is reflected in broader patterns of landscape change (mangrove recovery) and differentially reflected in individual fishing effort. It is argued that at the landscape level, the mangrove concessions have great potential to promote ecological and economic sustainability through mangrove conservation and habitat restoration, and to some degree, the sustainable harvest of shellfish. However at the resource level, the fishery is still challenged by the problem of the commons, social exclusion, and overexploitation exacerbated by structural issues. By combining social-ecological resilience and collective action theories to build on common property research, this paper attempts to address theoretical and methodological gaps in the study of common property and resilience to potentially inform policies for the management and conservation of coastal resources."

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