Date: 12 Sep 2012

To cope or to sustain? Eroding long-term sustainability in an Indonesian coral reef fishery

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Abstract

Small-scale fisheries in coral reef areas support the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide. Anthropogenic impacts such as overfishing and climate change increasingly threaten both the reef ecosystem and the livelihood security of the people that depend on the reefs. Adaptive management strategies are needed to adequately deal with these threats, but they require an understanding of the underlying drivers, which often originate and act on multiple levels. Using a social-ecological system approach, the coral reef fishery of the Spermonde Archipelago in South Sulawesi/Indonesia is assessed to identify key drivers and strategic leverage points for management. Under the influence of international markets and technological changes, several export-oriented fisheries have developed in the area that led to distinct subsequent peaks in fishing activity in a pattern of sequential marine resource exploitation. In response to stressors such as seasonality and overfishing of individual locations or species, a number of coping strategies have developed locally. These include extensive borrowing from fishing patrons, diversification of fishing methods, fishing migrations, and the crafting of local institutions to regulate fishing activity. However, the coping strategies hinder, and even decrease, the capacity of the system to adapt to future stressors and undermine the sustainability of the fishery. Potential strategies that target different levels of the fishery system in order to strengthen adaptive management are identified.

Co-authors are listed in alphabetical order.