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Resilience in Small Scale Fisheries: Baja Case Study

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Small-scale fisheries employ 50 of the world's 51 million fishers and produce over half of the world's annual marine fish catch, supplying most of the fish consumed in the developing world. Despite their overwhelming social and economic importance of small-scale fisheries, these systems are poorly understood. Community-based management, co-management, and market incentives can all foster long-term stewardship and ecosystem protection, but their applicability and success to date has varied. Beginning in the 1930's, the nearshore fisheries of Baja California were organized into local cooperatives, which were granted exclusive fishing rights on local stocks, including abalone, lobsters, oysters, clams, and shrimp. Cooperatives throughout the coast operate under different permits that give them greater or lesser degrees of control over their local resources, and vary broadly in their ecological setting and in the success and sustainability of their main fisheries (primarily for lobster and abalone). Our objective is to develop an integrated framework for addressing environmental and socioeconomic processes underlying the varying success of the small-scale fisheries of Baja California. Through our involvement in these multi-disciplinary research program studying the complex biophysical and socioeconomic feedbacks within two space-based approaches to marine management and conservation, marine protected areas and exclusive fishing rights, we are hoping to be able to make significant contributions to better integrating ecological understanding into conservation of marine seascapes and associated assemblages.