Economic Viability of Small-Scale Fisheries: A Transdisciplinary Evaluation Approach

  • Anna Schuhbauer
  • Andrés M. Cisneros-Montemayor
  • U. Rashid Sumaila
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 21)


Economically viable small-scale fisheries are likely much better prepared to face global changes in climate, technology, and markets. ‘Economic viability’ is often mistakenly equated with financial viability, with profitability as the sole goal. However, in complex and dynamic systems, such as small-scale fisheries, social, ecological, and governance aspects also play essential roles. Here, we use a more inclusive definition of economic viability as the achievement of nonnegative net benefits to society over time. This chapter develops a methodological framework derived from a transdisciplinary process involving stakeholders from policy, science, and fishing communities. The study first presents the concept of basic economic viability and how it differs from financial viability, followed by an extended version of economic viability, including a much broader set of attributes drawn from economic, social, ecological, and institutional aspects of fishing. The applications and implications of both assessments are then illustrated using Mexican fisheries as a case-study. Results indicate that economic viability can be improved when managers and policy makers ensure that the distribution of total fisheries subsidies between small- and large-scale fisheries are not creating disadvantages, and rather contribute to controlling fishing pressure and supporting the use of non-destructive fishing techniques. Our analysis suggests that the assessment of economic viability can be used as a tool to better understand the underlying dynamics of fisheries. This understanding can help identify their vulnerabilities, and inform sound policies to achieve balanced management regarding the social, economic, ecological, and institutional dimensions of small-scale fishing communities.


Small-scale fisheries Economic viability Profit maximization Stakeholder engagement Transdisciplinary approach Mexican fisheries 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Schuhbauer
    • 1
  • Andrés M. Cisneros-Montemayor
    • 2
  • U. Rashid Sumaila
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Fisheries Economic Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Nereus, Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.The Liu Institute for Global IssuesThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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