Understanding non-compliance in small-scale fisheries: Shark fishing in Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago

Abstract

Achieving fisheries compliance is challenging in contexts where enforcement capacity is limited and the incentives for rule-breaking are strong. This challenge is exemplified in Myanmar, where an active shark fishery exists despite a nationwide ban on targeted shark fishing. We used the Kipling method (5W1H) to gather a complete story of non-compliance in five small-scale fishing communities in the Myeik Archipelago. Among 144 fishers surveyed, 49% were aware of the nationwide ban. Shark fishers (24%) tended to be younger individuals who did not own a boat and perceived shark fishing to be prevalent. Compliant fishers were motivated by a fear of sharks and lack of capacity (equipment, knowledge), whereas food and income were cited as key motivations for non-compliance. The results of our study emphasize that in resource-dependent communities, improving compliance for effective shark conservation may require addressing broader issues of poverty, food security and the lack of alternatives.

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Acknowledgements

We sincerely thank all community members who participated in this research. We also sincerely thank staff at Fauna and Flora International (Robert Howard, Soe Thiha, Sanay Ko, Soe Tint Aung, Kyaw Zay Ya, Salai Mon Nyi Nyi Lin) and Instituto Oikos (Elisa Facchini, Aung Myo Lwin) for support with logistics and data collection. We are grateful to three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript. This research was supported by the Shark Conservation Fund.

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MacKeracher, T., Mizrahi, M., Bergseth, B. et al. Understanding non-compliance in small-scale fisheries: Shark fishing in Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago. Ambio (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01400-1

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Keywords

  • Compliance
  • Livelihoods
  • Shark conservation
  • Shark fishing
  • Small-scale fisheries