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Studying common-pool resources over time: A longitudinal case study of the Buen Hombre fishery in the Dominican Republic

Abstract

Like many small-scale fishing communities around the world, the community of Buen Hombre in the Dominican Republic is dealing with a set of challenges to reconcile its fishing activities with the ecology on which it depends. Also like many such communities, this case has been examined at a particular period in time by a group of social scientists, but not over substantial lengths of time in order to examine the longitudinal validity of the conclusions made during this period. In this paper we combine data from previous anthropological work with our own primary social and ecological data to conduct a longitudinal case study of the Buen Hombre fishery. Our over-time comparison focuses on a suite of mostly social and institutional variables to explain what we find to be a continued degradation of the fishery, and we conclude the analysis by presenting a causal-loop diagram, summarizing our inferences regarding the complex interactions among these variables. We find that a mix of factors, notably changes in gear and fishing sites used, the number of fishermen and their livelihood diversity, as well as an increased connectivity between Buen Hombre and its external environment, have contributed to the decline of the condition of Buen Hombre coral reef fishery. We conclude with a discussion of what may lie ahead for this particular case and others like it.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Detailed questions regarding borrowing behaviors were only conducted with the 50 fishermen in the first round of surveys. Due to time constraints, they were not included in the second round of surveys.

  2. 2.

    These questions were included in the rules questions that were only asked in the first survey round.

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Acknowledgments

This project was made possible by the collaboration of the Buen Hombre fishermen and community. The authors would like to specifically thank Dr. Frederick Payton of AgroFrontera and Dr. Anne Kapuscinski for their continued guidance and support. The authors would also like to thank Gillian A.O. Britton for her assistance with fieldwork. Funding was provided from the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Department of Undergraduate Advising & Research, and the Cramer Fund at Dartmouth College.

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Correspondence to Michael Cox.

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Wilson, M., Pavlowich, T. & Cox, M. Studying common-pool resources over time: A longitudinal case study of the Buen Hombre fishery in the Dominican Republic. Ambio 45, 215–229 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-015-0688-y

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Keywords

  • Community-based natural resource management
  • Dominican Republic
  • Institutional analysis
  • Small-scale fisheries