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Historical Perspectives and Recent Trends in the Coastal Mozambican Fishery

Jessica L. Blythe, University of Victoria
Grant Murray, Vancouver Island University
Mark S. Flaherty, University of Victoria

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05759-180465

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Abstract

Historical data describing changing social-ecological interactions in marine systems can help guide small-scale fisheries management efforts. Fisheries landings data are often the primary source for historical reconstructions of fisheries; however, we argue that reliance on data of a single type and/or from a single scale can lead to potentially misleading conclusions. For example, a narrow focus on aggregate landings statistics can mask processes and trends occurring at local scales, as well as the complex social changes that result from and precipitate marine ecosystem change. Moreover, in the case of many small-scale fisheries, landings statistics are often incomplete and/or inaccurate. We draw on case study research in Mozambique that combines national landings statistics and career history interviews with fish harvesters to generate a multi-scale historical reconstruction that describes social-ecological interactions within the coastal Mozambican fishery. At the national level, our analysis points toward trends of fishing intensification and decline in targeted species, and it highlights the significant impact of small-scale fisheries on marine stocks. At the local level, fishers are experiencing changes in fish abundance and distribution, as well as in their physical, social, and cultural environments, and have responded by increasing their fishing effort. We conclude with a discussion of the governance implications of our methodological approach and findings.

Key words

fisheries management; fishers’ knowledge; marine environmental history; Mozambique; small-scale fisheries
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087