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Landscape Influences on Fisher Success: Adaptation Strategies in Closed and Open Access Fisheries in Southern Chile

Tracy Van Holt, Department of Geography, East Carolina University; Institute of Coastal Science and Policy, East Carolina University


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Determinants of fisher success in southern Chile’s loco (Concholepas concholepas) fishery are examined by comparing fisher success in exclusive access territories that vary in relationship to tree-plantation development, which can affect shellfish quality. The relative importance of fishers’ experience and capture technology (traditional measures of fisher success) are evaluated against environmental and geospatial characteristics. While knowledge and technology explained variation in catches, this did not translate into higher prices or profit. Fishers succeeded (gained higher prices for locos and had higher monthly incomes from their management areas) when they harvested shellfish from closed (exclusive) nearshore management areas where the environmental condition produced high quality locos regardless of their fishing experience, technology, and the geospatial features of management areas. Experienced fishers who worked in management areas near tree plantations that fail to produce resources of sufficient quality shifted to offshore fisheries where their experience counted. Offshore fishers working in the congrio (Genypterus chilensis) fishery likely exposed themselves to more risk and benefited from their experience and available technology; environmental condition and geospatial factors played little role in their success (price). Closed management areas provided resources to harvest, but may reduce a fisher’s ability to adapt to environmental change because success depends on environmental factors outside of a fisher’s control. Fishers were not financially rewarded for their experience or their technology in the loco fishery.

Key words

adaptation strategies; Chile; closed-access; Concholepas concholepas; endobionts; experience; fisheries; fisher success; Genypterus chilensis; human environment; landscape change; land-sea interface; traditional ecological knowledge (TEK); tree plantations

Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087