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Journal ArticleDOI

Viability and resilience of small-scale fisheries through cooperative arrangements

01 Dec 2016-Environment and Development Economics (Cambridge University Press)-Vol. 21, Iss: 6, pp 713-741

Abstract: The small-scale fisheries sector in many Pacific islands is facing increasing challenges in relation to resource availability, economic opportunity, and demographic and social pressure. In particular, intensifying cash-oriented livelihood strategies can exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and threaten food security and resource conservation. In this paper the authors develop a bio-economic model and a quantitative measure of resilience in order to explore the interaction between socio-economic and ecological dynamics, and to analyze the potential role that cooperation and collective arrangements can play in this interaction to maintain the viability of the system. Based on the case of the system known as wantok typically found in the Solomon Islands, numerical examples are used to explore the potential gain that cooperation between fishers can bring in terms of subsistence, profitability and ecological performances, as well as the resilience of the whole system to shocks.
Topics: Resilience (network) (58%), Livelihood (51%)

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GRETHA U M R CNR S 5 1 13
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Viability and resilience of small-scale fisheries through
cooperative arrangements
P. Y. HARDY
CNRS MNHN
C. BENE
Institute of Development Studies
Sussex University (BRIGHTON - UK)
L. DOYEN
GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113
Université de Bordeaux
J. C. PEREAU
GREThA, CNRS, UMR 5113
Université de Bordeaux
D. MILES
WorldFish Center, MALAYSIA
Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Australia
Cahiers du GREThA
n° 2013-18
September

Cahiers du GREThA 2013 – 18
G R E T H A U M R C N R S 5 1 1 3
Universi t é Monte s q u i eu Bor d e a u x I V
Ave nu e Lé on Du gu i t - 33 6 0 8 PE S S AC - FR ANCE
Te l : + 33 (0 )5 .5 6 .8 4 .2 5 .75 - F ax : + 3 3 (0 )5 .5 6 .84 .86 .4 7 - w ww . g r e th a.fr
La coopération pour la viabilité et la résilience de petites pêcheries artisanales
Résumé
Les petites pêcheries artisanales situées dans les iles du Pacifique sont actuellement
confrontées à de fortes pressions écologiques, économiques, démographiques et sociales. En
particulier, des stratégies de recherche de profit peuvent aggraver des vulnérabilités
existantes, menacer la sécurité d’approvisionnement alimentaire, la pauvreté et la
conservation de la biodiversité. Dans le cadre d’un modèle bio-économique couplant des
dynamiques écologiques et socio-économiques, cet article propose une mesure quantitative
de la résilience en lien avec la viabilité du système. Une attention particulière est portée sur
l'importance des mécanismes de coopération pour la viabilité et la résilience bio-
économique. Dans le cas du système coutumier des îles Salomon appelé « wantok », des
illustrations numériques montrent quel est le gain de la coopération entre les pêcheurs en
termes de subsistance, de profitabilité, de performances écologiques et de résilience face à
des chocs.
Mots-clés : résilience, coopération, viabilité, temps de crise, pêcheries, wantok
Viability and resilience of small-scale fisheries through cooperative arrangements
Abstract
The small-scale fishery sector in many Pacific islands is facing increasing challenges in
relation to resource availability, economic opportunity, demographic and social pressure. In
particular, intensifying cash-oriented livelihood strategies can exacerbate existing
vulnerabilities and threaten food security, poverty alleviation and resource conservation. In
this paper we develop a bio-economic model and a quantitative measure of resilience to
explore the interaction between socio-economic and ecological dynamics, and to analyse the
potential role that cooperation and collective arrangements can play in this interaction to
maintain the viability of the system. Based on the case of the customary system called
wantok found in Solomon Islands, numerical examples are used to illustrate the gain that
cooperation between fishers can bring in terms of subsistence, profitability, ecological
performances as well as resilience to shock.
Keywords: resilience, cooperation, viability, crisis time, fisheries, wantok
Reference to this paper: HARDY P.H., BENE C., DOYEN L., PEREAU J. C., MILLS D. (2013) Viability and
resilience of small-scale fisheries through cooperative arrangements, Cahiers du GREThA, n°2013-18.
http://ideas.repec.org/p/grt/wpegrt/2013-18.html.

Viability and resilience of small-scale fisheries
through cooperative arrangements
Hardy P.-Y.
, B´en´e C.
, Doyen L.
, J.C. Pereau
, Mills D.
§
July 2, 2013
Abstract
The small-scale fishery sector in many Pacific islands is facing increasing challenges
in relation to resource availability, economic opportun ity, demographic and social pres-
sure. In particular, intensifying cash-oriented liveliho od strategies can exacerbate ex-
isting vulnerabilities and threaten food security, poverty alleviation and resource con-
servation. In this paper we develop a bio-economic model and a quantitative measure
of resilience to explore the interaction between s ocio-economic and ecological dynam-
ics, and to analyse the potential role that cooperation and collective arrangements can
play in this interaction to maintain the viability of the sys tem. Based on the case of
the customary system called wantok fou nd in Solomon Islands, numerical examples
are used to illustrate the gain that cooperation between fishers can bring in terms of
subsistence, profitability, ecological performances as well as resilience to shock.
1 Introduction
Small-scale fisheries are facing increasing challenges induced by the amplitude and the
pace of the changes that are taking place in both their economic and ecological ’worlds’.
In many coastal developing countries, combined effects of pollution, climate change and
overfishing affect marine habitats and reduce resources and diversity (Halpern et al., 2 008;
Mora, 2008). In some places, this situation is exacerbated by the rapid demographic tran-
sition that characterises the developing world (Sunderlin, 1994 ; Botsford et al., 1997). In
CNRS-MNHN, 55 rue Buffon, 7005 Paris, France
Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University, Brighton BN1 9RE, UK
GREThA, University Montesquieu Bordeaux IV, avenue eon Duguit, Pessac, France
§
WorldFish Center, Penang, Malaysia, and C/o ARC CoE fo r Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University,
Townsville, Australia
1

particular, while the number of fishers may not grow any longer as rapidly as it has in
the previous 50 years, global fishing effort is still increasing, mainly dr iven by economic
forces and the demand from the growing (local and distant) urban population (Crossland
and Philipson, 1993). This paper explores the issue of the viability of small-scale fisheries
in this particular context. We are especially interested in considering the importance of the
interactio n between socio-economic and ecological dynamics, and in analysing the potential
role that cooperation and collective a r rangements between agents can play in this interaction
to maintain the viability of the system.
The Pacific region is a very relevant ’prism’ t o observe and explore these issues. Most of
the island count r ies in the region are still considered as poor countries and small-scale fisheries
are an impor tant (sometime the only) economic opportunity for many poor households,
esp ecially in the rura l and remote parts of these islands (Kronen, 2004, 2007). The sector is
therefore a keystone of the domestic economy. At the same time fish is also the main source
of protein for the vast majority of t he (urban and rural) population in the whole region (Yari,
2003/04; Molea and Vuki, 2008; Oreihaka and Ramohia, 1994). Unfortunately many of these
islands are experiencing a rapid degradation of their marine resources (Dalzell et al., 1996 ;
Aswani and Sabetian, 2009; Masu and Vave-Kara mui, 2012). Fewer fish would therefore
imply important food security problems for these countries (Weeratunge et al., 2011; Bell
et al., 20 09).
Fishers from this part of the world are currently experiencing other important socio-
economical changes. The ancient tradition of bart er (Marshall, 1963; Sheppard and Walter,
2006) and g ift economy (Feinberg, 1996 ) t hat had characterized these societies since centuries
is being progressively eroded by the increasing need for cash imposed by the globalized
economy (Dignan et al., 2004). Cash is in fact becoming a central element in the lif e of
these people, even if subsistence economy is still prevalent, especially in rural areas (Schwarz
et al., 20 07; Kronen et al., 2008; Hardy et al., 2013).
Pacific small-scale fisheries are still managed through customary systems. These custom-
2

ary systems do not refer only to community-based management rules that define how and
where people can fish (Cinner, 2 005; Faanunu, n.d.; Johannes, 1 981). They also include social
redistributive mechanisms between groups of fishers (including family and friends) that aim
to ensure that each member of the group receives a minimum amount of fish irrespective of
their personal catch. The underlying principle is one that ensures the food security amongst
the different members of the community. In that sense this redistributive element shares
some common features with the old concept of mutual aid describ ed in Kropotkin (2009
[1904]), or Borkman (1999). These collaborative arrangements of redistribution are named
in various ways around the Pacific region; the wantok in Papua New Guinea and Solomon
Islands, or the kerekere in Fidji (Monsell-Davis, 1993; Gordon, 2011; Cinner, 2009). We pro-
pose to explore whether t he establishment of these types of collaborative mechanisms among
groups of fishers exploiting the same r esource can be a critical element that contributes to
create, or to maintain, the overall viability of the small-scale fishery system in a challenging
environment where shocks and sudden changes in resource abundance are frequent.
To explore this hypothesis, we use the concept of resilience as understood in the social-
ecological literature. Many recent definitions of resilience have been proposed in different
disciplines (Manyena, 2006; Bahadur et al., 2010). Most of them however share in common
the basic idea that a resilient system is a system that is able to r educe/smooth the nega-
tive impacts of shocks and a dapts when these changes affect par t s of , or the whole system.
Quantifying or measuring this ability t o reduce impacts of perturbation is however method-
ologically difficult (Armitage et al., 2012; Frankenberger and Nelson, 201 3; B´en´e et al., 2012).
In our case, that is, under a dynamic framewor k, we follow B´en´e et al. (2001) and Martin
(2005) who propo se to link resilience to the concept of ’time of crisis’. Time of crisis is the
time it takes for a dynamic system to come back to a viable state after a shock. In other
words, the more resilient a system is, the shorter the time of crisis is expected to be. This
approach is in f act relatively close to some of the earlier ’engineering’ definitions of resilience
as proposed by, e.g. Holling 1 973 who defined r esilience as the ”ability of a system to bounce
3

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