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Biological and Ecological Mechanisms Supporting Marine Self-Governance: the Seri Callo de Hacha Fishery in Mexico

Xavier Basurto, Indiana University; Duke University; Comunidad y Biodiversidad AC

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Abstract

My goal was to describe how biological and ecological factors give shape to fishing practices that can contribute to the successful self-governance of a small-scale fishing system in the Gulf of California, Mexico. The analysis was based on a comparison of the main ecological and biological indicators that fishers claim to use to govern their day-to-day decision making about fishing and data collected in situ. I found that certain indicators allow fishers to learn about differences and characteristics of the resource system and its units. Fishers use such information to guide their day-to-day fishing decisions. More importantly, these decisions appear unable to shape the reproductive viability of the fishery because no indicators were correlated to the reproductive cycle of the target species. As a result, the fishing practices constitute a number of mechanisms that might provide short-term buffering capacity against perturbations or stress factors that otherwise would threaten the overall sustainability and self-governance of the system. The particular biological circumstances that shape the harvesting practices might also act as a precursor of self-governance because they provide fishers with enough incentives to meet the costs of organizing the necessary rule structure that underlies a successful self-governance system.

Key words

Atrina tuberculosa; callo de hacha; common-pool resources; diving fisheries; Gulf of California; Mexico; pen shells; Pinna rugosa; resilience; scallop; Seri; small-scale fisheries; social-ecological systems
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087