Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The shape of the commons: Social networks and the conservation of small-scale fisheries in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico
by Duberstein, Jennifer Nell, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2010, 222; 3389409
Abstract (Summary)

One of the biggest questions surrounding common-pool natural resources (CPRs) lies in understanding the circumstances which increase the likelihood of sustainable use and those that lead to resource degradation. Small-scale fisheries are an example of a CPR that has proven difficult to manage sustainably. I use social network analysis methods to examine the social connectivity of small-scale fishing communities and the association of network structures with collaborative behavior of small-scale fisheries in the Northern Gulf of California, Mexico.

I found considerable connectivity of communities via kinship ties of small-scale fishers, both within the region and to other areas in Mexico. Fisher kinship relationships are important mechanisms for information transfer. Identifying communities in the network that are most likely to share information with other communities allows managers to develop more effective and efficient education, outreach, and enforcement efforts.

Communities are also connected by their use of the same fishing zones and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). My results provide suggestions for dividing communities based on common use of fishing areas and MPAs. This may help fishers and managers to develop, implement, and enforce boundary rules that will facilitate regional management of small-scale fisheries. My results provided mixed evidence for the role of social structure in impacting positive outcomes for fisher’ ability to collaborate and organize. A wide range of factors affect the emergence of institutions for CPR management. Similarly, finding a common network structure that can accurately predict sustainable use of CPRs is unlikely. Knowing how people are connected and the ways in which information about CPR resources moves through (or is hindered from moving through) a network can improve manager’s ability to develop more effective strategies and actions. Adding social networks into the CPR management toolbox provides a mechanism by which those working in management and conservation can incorporate social structure into management activities.

An understanding of the social networks that connect communities and the potential pathways for information transfer, combined with a system of enforceable rules and policies and effective outreach methods and materials, may help managers and resource users more effectively and sustainably manage CPRs in the long term.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shaw, William W.
Commitee: Gimblett, H. Randy, Sallaz, Jeffrey J., Schlager, Edella, Torre, Jorge
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Natural Resources
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 71/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Natural Resource Management, Social structure, Aquatic sciences
Keywords: Common-pool resources, Gulf of California, Marine protected areas, Mexico, Small-scale fisheries, Social network analysis
Publication Number: 3389409
ISBN: 978-1-109-55972-9
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