Common Ground, Uncommon Vision: The Importance of Cooperation for Small-Scale Fisheries Governance

  • Silvia Salas
  • Julia Fraga
  • Jorge Euan
  • Ratana Chuenpagdee
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 13)


Like in many countries around the world, concerns about resource degradation due to high fishing intensity and use of illegal fishing gears have led to the creation of several protected areas in Mexico. Also as in other cases, these conservation efforts have not been very successful, especially in areas where boundaries are unclear; resource uses overlap, and enforcement weak. Under these circumstances, conflicts between users are likely to escalate, making the fisheries system and the protected areas ungovernable. As posited by interactive governance theory, how stakeholders interact depends partly on the inherent characteristics of the social system, including images that they have of each other, and of the governing system. Stakeholder interactions are also reflections of their willingness to cooperate with each other, which in turn affects the overall resource governability. We illustrate the importance of stakeholder cooperation for governability using a case study of two neighboring small-scale fishing communities, San Felipe and Dzilam de Bravo, on the Yucatan coast of Mexico. While sharing fishing grounds and two nested protected areas, fishers from these two communities had different images about what the protected areas were for, who benefited from them, and how they should be governed. The communities also differed in livelihood options, the level of internal organization, and in the mode of governance. Based on our findings obtained through participatory research, we discuss how to foster cooperation between small-scale fishers and promote co-governance in order to enhance resource governability in the area.


Cooperation Participatory research Protected areas Resource governability Small-scale fisheries Mexico 



We thank the people of San Felipe and Dzilam de Bravo for their kind collaboration and warm welcome while we undertook this research. The project was funded by the International Development and Research Centre of Canada, in collaboration with CARICOM, Laval University and the International Ocean Institute—Canada. We thank Yvan Breton and Brian Davy for their support during the project. The research team members, namely, Miguel Cabrera, Hector Rodríguez, Karin Alvarez, Josefina Morales, Anna-Cristina Gavaldon, Laura Vidal, Martha Uc, Nidia Echeverría and Felipe Bobadilla were instrumental to this research. Juan Carlos Mijangos helped with the organization of workshops. Comments on an earlier version of the chapter by Yvan Breton and Maiken Bjørkan have been helpful.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Salas
    • 1
  • Julia Fraga
    • 1
  • Jorge Euan
    • 1
  • Ratana Chuenpagdee
    • 2
  1. 1.CINVESTAVMeridaMexico
  2. 2.Department of GeographyMemorial UniversitySt. John’sCanada

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