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Social–ecological shifts, traps and collapses in small–scale fisheries: Envisioning a way forward to transformative changes


Villasante, S. et al. (2022). Marine Policy




Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are critical to food systems and livelihoods. However, the relation between fisheries resilience, outcomes of proximate and distal drivers and the potential space for transformative changes have been largely unexplored. Such knowledge is key to understanding how fishery resources, institutions and actors respond to, and learn from, diverse drivers of change and social-ecological crises, as well as to design policies aimed at building resilience in SSF. This paper provides a new heuristic model to analyze the factors that combined lead SSF to trajectories towards shifts, traps and collapses, including the opportunity to navigate sustainable transformations. We illustrate the proposed Heuristic with three case studies with different biophysical and socio-cultural contexts and final outcomes: the Galician shellfisheries on foot (Spain), the Chilean king crab small-scale fishery (Chile), and the Galapagos sea cucumber small-scale fishery (Ecuador). The application of the Heuristic and a detailed description of model key elements for each case study provide practical examples and a valuable guide for fisheries scientists, practitioners and decision-makers to learn and/or respond in a flexible way to SSF social-ecological crises in the pursuit of fisheries sustainability and equity. Scholars are welcome to adopt our Heuristic to classify and bound SSF, order events, suggest hypotheses of linked drivers, pathways of change, potential trajectories, and outcomes, and envision potential space for transformative changes.

2022, Publications
Marine Policy, Sebastián Villasante