A spatially explicit integrated assessment of a social-ecological system: The Galapagos spiny lobster fishery
Castrejón Mendoza, Hugo Mauricio
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There is a growing recognition that implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) in combination with co-management regimes can be a solution to enhance the resilience of governing systems to respond to the social-ecological impacts produced by poor governance and external drivers of change, such as climate variability and market globalization. However, to date there are few empirical examples in Latin America and the Caribbean that demonstrate the challenges associated with the practical adoption of these alternative management approaches. In this dissertation, I used a social-ecological approach, in combination with GIS modelling techniques and boosted regression models, to conduct a long-term integrated assessment of the impact of Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR)’s marine zoning and co-management regime on shellfish fisheries. My analysis focused on the impact of this alternative management approach, and other relevant human and climatic drivers, on the spatial distribution of fishing effort in the spiny lobster fishery. Based on this analysis, I identified: (1) the institutional factors that are preventing the effective transition from a resource-focused to social-ecological and ecosystem-based spatial management approaches; (2) the enabling conditions required to build institutional adaptability; and (3) fishers’ adaptive responses to marine zoning implementation and other human and climatic drivers. My results suggest that substantial changes in fishing effort distribution occurred in the spiny lobster fishery due to economic perturbations produced by the boom-and-bust exploitation of the sea cucumber fishery and the global financial crisis 2007-2009, rather than no-take zone implementation. These drivers of change caused a severe reduction of fishing effort, which together with the combined effect of market forces and favorable environmental conditions contributed to recovery of spiny lobster stocks. Fishers´ adaptive responses varied according to the magnitude, extent, periodicity and intensity of the drivers of change analyzed, and the geographic and socioeconomic features of fishing communities in which fisher organizations are embedded. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding about how local fishing communities cope with the interactions of different human and climatic drivers is fundamental to reduce the risk of producing wrong conclusions about the role that no-take zones played on a fishery recovery, as it was revealed by this dissertation.