Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 5–34 | Cite as

Ecological, cultural, and economic approaches to managing artisanal fisheries

  • Alpina BegossiEmail author


Approaches towards the management of artisanal fisheries have been enlightening the scientific literature for approximately the last 20 years. Coming from diverse disciplines such as anthropology, biology, economy, and ecology (especially human ecology), these approaches have dealt with common theory, strategies for cooperation, decision-making models, cultural contexts, and local knowledge. Fishery management depends on an understanding of the interactions between humans and aquatic resources, and in case of indigenous or of native populations, forestry resources are also considered for livelihoods. Acquiring an understanding of the local knowledge about fish and other resources, of collective local arrangements and institutions, of market interactions, and of the decision-making processes of fishers is fundamental for the management of artisanal fisheries. This review includes historical and current approaches associated with the management of artisanal fisheries. These approaches include the following: (a) cultural and human ecological approaches, including ecological models such as optimal foraging theory; (b) institutional approaches, including processes of cooperation associated with local knowledge and institutions; and (c) current ecological-economic propositions towards fishery management, such as payments for environmental services. This revision is illustrated through examples, in particular, of data collected among coastal artisanal fisheries of the SE Atlantic Forest in Brazil.


Cooperation Cultural ecology Fisheries Kinship Management 



I am grateful to the University of Greenwich in London, UK, for the keynote invitation to the conference ‘It’s not just about the fish’, social and cultural perspectives of sustainable marine fisheries ( and for support, and to Julie Urquhart for suggestions on this manuscript. I wish to thank Katja Neves-Graça for stimulating a very fruitful debate before on the meeting Nature™ Inc. (held at The Hague, ISS, in July 2011), which stimulated the production of some sessions of this paper; anonymous referees from ENVI deserve to be acknowledged since they read carefully the manuscript and enriched it through valuable suggestions; finally, I thank FAPESP (grants # 07/58700-7 and 09/11154-3), IDRC/UNICAMP (grant # 104519-004).y), and CNPq (productivity scholarship).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Capesca/Lepac and CMUUNICAMPCampinasBrazil
  2. 2.FIFO/UNISANTASantosBrazil

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