Environmental Management

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 759–769 | Cite as

Identifying Drivers of Collective Action for the Co-management of Coastal Marine Fisheries in the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica

  • Alejandro J. García LozanoEmail author
  • Joel T. Heinen


Small-scale fisheries are important for preventing poverty, sustaining local economies, and rural livelihoods, but tend to be negatively impacted by traditional forms of management and overexploitation among other factors. Marine Areas for Responsible Fishing (Áreas Marinas de Pesca Responsable, AMPR) have emerged as a new model for the co-management of small-scale fisheries in Costa Rica, one that involves collaboration between fishers, government agencies, and NGOs. The primary objective of this paper is to elucidate some of the key variables that influence collective action among small-scale fishers in Tárcoles, a community in the Gulf of Nicoya. We examined collective action for the formation of a local marketing cooperative and participation in management through the AMPR. We apply the social-ecological framework as a diagnostic and organizational tool in the analysis of several types of qualitative data, including interviews with key informants, informal interviews, legal documents, and gray literature. Findings illustrate the importance of socio-economic community attributes (e.g., group size, homogeneity, previous cooperation), as well as that of social (e.g., equity) and ecological (e.g., improved stocks) outcomes perceived as favorable by actors. In addition, our work demonstrates the importance of certain kinds of external NGOs for facilitating and sustaining collective action.


Fisheries management Collective action Co-management Small-scale fisheries Marine protected areas Common-pool resources Social-ecological systems 



We thank members of CoopeSoliDar, CoopeTárcoles, Fundación MarViva, and all the community members and other informants interviewed. In addition, we thank Mahadev Bhat, David Bray, and the reviewers for their valuable input on the manuscript, as well as the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University and the Florida International University Foundation for providing the financial support that made this work possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro J. García Lozano
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Joel T. Heinen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth and EnvironmentFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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