Poverty Mosaics:

Realities and Prospects in Small-Scale Fisheries

On this page you will find the complete collection of abstracts from the 20 chapters of the book
Poverty Mosaics: Realities and Prospects in Small-Scale Fisheries
(eds. Svein Jentoft and Arne Eide)

Chapter 1

Setting the Stage
This book is about small-scale fisheries and the many poor and vulnerable people who draw their livelihoods from this sector. The focus is on what fishing means to them, their adaptations to shifting environments, and how fisheries contribute to food security and well-being. It is also about institutions and governance of small-scale fisheries, and how they influence the coping capabilities of the people in addressing poverty and vulnerability. Drawing on case studies from 15 countries around the world – from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe – the book presents a remarkable mosaic of small-scale fishers’ stories, situations, and coping strategies. Small-scale fisheries are variable, and therefore hard to define. What is small in one country is not necessarily small in another countries often have their own way of categorizing small-scale fisheries. Their diversity, fluctuations, and change complicate statistical comparison. This implies that policies and development initiatives aiming to alleviate poverty and create sustainable growth need to be tailored to the particular problems, circumstances, and opportunities that small-scale fisheries are facing, wherever they exist.
Chapter 2
Avoiding Poverty: Distributing Wealth in Fisheries
Aquatic resources contribute to economic growth, food security, and the livelihoods of millions of fishers around the world. This is evidenced by the industrialization of capture fisheries in the twentieth century, which has generated enormous wealth. Rather than supporting a policy aimed at maximizing economic efficiency, though, this chapter argues for the distribution of wealth among smallscale fishers. After all, the small-scale fisheries function as a safety valve for a host of rural poor, for whom alternative livelihoods are not available.

Chapter 3
Situating Poverty: A Chain Analysis of Small-Scale Fisheries
In this chapter, we argue that poverty in small-scale fisheries needs to be examined within the context of the fisheries chain which links the aquatic environment with the natural and social systems at the harvest and post-harvest processes. It is within this context that the factors and conditions underlying poverty may be found and resolved. Such an examination widens the considerations about external and internal sources and drivers of poverty. Poverty in small-scale fisheries extends beyond local communities to regional and
  national levels. For this reason, we begin by presenting small-scale fisheries globally, with an emphasis on the 15 countries included in this volume. Next, we investigate causes of the vulnerability of smallscale fishing communities to poverty, based on several indices. With some references to the case studies that follow in later chapters, we suggest how the drivers and consequences of poverty in small-scale fisheries may be examined from the chain perspective.

Chapter 4
The Meaning of Poverty: Conceptual Issues in Small-Scale Fisheries Research
This chapter synthesizes the conceptual issues and arguments advanced in the 15 case studies presented in this volume. It also relates the arguments and findings to major issues in poverty research and debates, and to the literature on small-scale fisheries and poverty. Moreover, the chapter discusses the many dimensions of poverty, and how poverty and vulnerability undermine the role of small-scale fisheries as providers of sustainable livelihoods, food security, and economic development. At the same time, it recognizes that poverty, vulnerability, and development are essentially “wicked” problems, difficult to define and solve, partly because they have no simple technical solution. This has important policy and governance implications; therefore listening to the poor and involving them in decision-making is essential.
The PovFish book includes 20 chapters presenting 15 case studies  from countries all over the world. The abstract of each case study is found below (chapter 5 - chapter 19), while the final chapter synthesise the findings of the different studies.
Chapter 5
Living on the Margin: The Poverty-Vulnerability Nexus in the Small-Scale Fisheries of Bangladesh
This chapter examines the relationship between poverty and vulnerability in small-scale fisheries of Bangladesh. For this purpose, data were collected in three coastal fishing communities. The results show that in small-scale fisheries, poverty is a complex issue, with a wide array of causal factors in effect. Small-scale fishers’ livelihoods are threatened by: low productivity of fisheries and high dependency on certain species; seasonality in fishing; frequent natural disasters; heavy debt bondage; coastal piracy and other illegal rent seeking activities; mass illiteracy; and lack of participation in political processes and local institutions, to mention some of the problems. Thus in Bangladesh, small-scale fishers are forced to live on the margin of existence where they are extremely vulnerable to shocks such as environmental disasters. The study finds that a combination of different livelihood strategies is an important tool for escaping poverty in the fishing communities. I argue that to arrest poverty in small-scale fishing communities such as those of Bangladesh, addressing vulnerability is vital; and creating buffer against crisis is urgent.

Chapter 6
Occupation of Last Resort? Small-Scale Fishing in Lake Victoria, Tanzania
Small-scale fisheries have been conceptualized as a “safety valve” – the last reliable livelihood when no other exists for fishers, who are considered poor. This perception appears to be the grounds upon which poverty alleviation and resource management policies are defined. This chapter looks at this notion and questions whether small-scale fisheries are really an “occupation of last resort.” Based on an ethnographic study on a Lake Victoria fishing community in Tanzania , data indicate that regardless of their poverty status, small-scale fisheries are perceived as offering a rich way of life that fishers join by choice. By discussing what fishers consider as the underlying issues in their choices, this chapter argues that fisheries management (in technical terms) should shift to governance that supports opportunities and processes for fishers to pursue the kind of life they want, and create an environment in which they can pursue that life, respectively. Such a shift would also benefit from a set of management-relevant social variables and indicators that focus on peoples’ judgments of their well-being, capabilities, and satisfaction to aim toward sustainable fisheries management and poverty reduction. The chapter therefore emphasizes that if managers and policy makers/governors do not understand the full meaning and satisfaction that small-scale fishers attach to their occupation, policies instituted to curb overfishing risk not only misfire but also backfire.

Chapter 7
Vanished Prosperity: Poverty and Marginalization in a Small Polish Fishing Community
This chapter presents results of a study that was conducted in a small fi shing community located on the shore of the Vistula Lagoon, where fi sheries have played a signifi cant role in the socio-economic and cultural life of the inhabitants of this area. After World War II, the populations of Vistula Lagoon communities and the surrounding areas were almost completely changed. Fisheries became a very important source of income for the local people, and a very important element in their social integration. Fishers were part of the social elite in their communities. Recently, a new political and economic reality (especially the introduction of the free market economy), aquatic ecosystem degradation, decline in fish stocks, and few employment alternatives have resulted in the diminishing economic power of fishers and other inhabitants of coastal communities. Fisheries can no longer guarantee sufficient income to live on. This chapter discusses strategies and activities that ought to be considered to improve socio-economic conditions in such communities; finds answers to questions on what kind of governance may prevent overuse and degradation of natural resources; and provides remedies that are suited to reduce the risk of poverty. Unstructured interviews and focus group discussions with local inhabitants, many of whom have been employed in the fishing industry, were the main research methods.

Chapter 8
More Than Income Alone: The Anlo-Ewe Beach Seine Fishery in Ghana
Ghanaian artisanal fisheries have dominated the West African coastal region for over 100 years. Due to natural conditions (upwelling) in the Gulf of Guinea, Ghanaian fishers have long been migrating to follow the fish. While migrating, they spread their technical knowledge of boat building and fishing, as well as knowledge of management institutions to other coastal communities. Fish stocks in West Africa – and in Ghana – are now in crisis. Due to declining catches, the contributions that fisheries make to poverty reduction are becoming threatened. This chapter describes the history and current situation of the Anlo-Ewe beach seine fishers, one of the coastal ethnic groups involved in fishing. This chapter presents four main findings: (1) fishing in West Africa is not always a last resort activity – which has often been suggested; (2) artisanal fisheries have been very profitable; (3) fisheries mean more to fishers than earning money – it is a way of life; and (4) policies aimed at providing “alternative” livelihoods for fishers to solve problems of resource scarcity are likely to be unsuccessful. This chapter concludes by pointing out how the inclusion of strong artisanal fisheries in fisheries governance is crucial for preventing stock depletion and growing poverty.

Chapter 9
Wealth, Poverty, and Immigration: The Role of Institutions in the Fisheries of Tamil Nadu, India
This chapter explores two concurrent processes in the fisheries of Tamil Nadu, India, over the past century: technological modernization and demographic growth. The first process is closely connected to the Blue Revolution instigated by the Government of India after Independence, as well as to the globalization of markets. It has resulted in substantial increases in sectoral wealth. The second process is the increasing size of the fishing population through natural growth and immigration. I situate the poverty that still occurs in Indian fisheries in the confluence of these two processes, arguing that varying institutional arrangements which structure participation have an important effect on poverty’s availability and location. The chapter centers on one particular district – Ramnathapuram – which has witnessed particularly dramatic increases in its fishing population compared to other parts of the South Indian coastline. This has resulted in specific patterns of poverty and riches.
Chapter 10
Addressing Vulnerability: Coping Strategies of Fishing Communities in Yucatan, Mexico
In this chapter, we present a case study from Yucatan, Mexico. The main hazards that fisher groups are confronted with in coastal areas are explored, as well as the coping strategies fishers have developed to face them. We also investigate the sense of well-being according to fishers’ perceptions, and contrast with the level of marginalization reported in official records. Our findings suggest that fishers do not consider themselves poor, as long as they have access to fishing. Fishing gives them food security, but declining catches and other factors beyond their control, such as increase in the frequency of hurricanes and red tides, also expose them to risk and vulnerability. Several social and political issues generate concern among fishers as well. They employ proactive and reactive strategies at the individual and community levels to face those challenges. However, our research discovered that there are differences between communities and groups of fishers regarding those strategies. We contend that socio-economic conditions and levels of organization influence the ways fishers develop coping strategies. We discuss our findings in light of strategies that can be promoted to improve adaptive capacity of fishers in coastal communities, averting them from vulnerable conditions.

Chapter 11
Through Boom and Bust: Coping with Poverty in Sea Snail Fisheries on the Turkish Black Sea Coast
Small-scale fisheries for the introduced sea snail (Rapana venosa) have seen booms followed by irreversible bust. This chapter focuses on the role of this fishery relative to poverty dynamics on the Turkish Black Sea coast , and explores how fishers cope with boom and bust, respectively. We consider poverty as a multifaceted issue and analyze in some detail fishers’ income, social security, health, education, housing, as well as people’s own, culturally-informed perception of what constitutes poverty. Yet, our analysis aims beyond a descriptive account of poverty among fishers, and queries the epistemological status of the vicious circle model. Thus, we discuss how sea snail fishing has also constituted a way out of poverty; that it is uncertain whether overfishing can be blamed for the bust; that contextual factors, such as state welfare and agricultural policies, international organizations, and world economic dynamics, can have significant impact on poverty and wealth among the coastal population of the Black Sea coast of Turkey. The boom years of the sea snail fisheries clearly created a frontier situation inhibiting prospects of co-management between the state and communities of fishers. The observed lack of collective action among fishers and their concomitant incapacity to participate can be considered a dimension of poverty. Therefore, fishery development should not only go hand in hand with fishery management, but also with social policies aimed at reducing poverty and inequality.

Chapter 12
Community Response: Decline of the Chambo in Lake Malawi’s Southeast Arm

In Malawi, the multi-gear, multi-species small-scale fishing sector lands more than 95% of the catch and employs over 95% of those participating in fishing, greatly contributing towards poverty alleviation and protein food security for the lakeshore communities and Malawians at large. Over the last two decades, catches of the chambo ( Oreochromis spp.), the most valuable species in the Southeast Arm of Lake Malawi, have declined. This is a source of concern for the sustainability of the fishery as a whole, and the impact this could have on the dependent fishing communities, given that the devastated Lake Malombe fishery followed a similar trajectory. Fishers are ambivalent as to whether decline of the chambo should be a source of concern, especially if accepting this view would mean agreeing to new regulations aimed at reducing fishing effort. This study analyzes the strategies being used by fishers in response to the changing fishery dynamics as a result of the decline of the chambo. The responses include: investment in cheaper fishing gears; invention of new fishing techniques; introduction of new gear types; geographic and occupational mobility; business and livelihoods diversification; changes in relation to production within fishing units; and introduction of cage culture. Managers and development practitioners need to understand the changes taking place in the fishery in order to formulate appropriate and acceptable solutions, if the fishery is to continue to provide social-economic benefits for the fishing communities and Malawi.

Chapter 13
To Make a Fishing Life: Community Empowerment in Small-Scale Fisheries in the Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua
This chapter explores management from the perspective of a fishing community located in the Pearl Lagoon basin of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua . The chapter seeks to address the following questions: How do fishing households in the Pearl Lagoon area respond to management plans designed by regional agencies and national authorities? How is poverty understood and experienced by fishing families and individuals? How is access to land – meaning securing land and aquatic rights – affecting the livelihoods of the people living in fishing communities of the area? Which coping strategies have people undertaken to reduce the vulnerability of their livelihoods?

Chapter 14
Learning from the Experts: Attaining Sufficiency in Small-Scale Fishing Communities in Thailand

Small-scale fishing communities in Thailand cannot be readily classified as poor when compared to other non-fishing sectors in rural areas, or the “urban poor.” Rather, fishers have often referred to the concept of “sufficiency” as a measure of life satisfaction, which often means making ends meet and having a supportive network in case of emergency. While all were faced with changes brought about by industrialized fishing, coastal development, and globalization, some fishing communities seem to possess higher levels of capability to stay afloat, thus maintaining a satisfying level of sufficiency. From a governance perspective, learning about why some communities are better at coping and averting poverty, is useful to help those who are less able, as well as to prevent others from falling into a poverty trap. This chapter reports the findings from a study conducted in small-scale fishing villages in four provinces in Thailand that differ in geography and context, with the aim to understand their coping strategies and the poverty-averting potentials.
Chapter 15
Facilitating Change: A Mekong Vietnamese Small-Scale Fishing Community
As one of the poor provinces in the Mekong Delta, Ben Tre has the three poorest coastal districts, namely Binh Dai, Ba Tri, and Thanh Phu. Thanh Phong is one of the 18 communes of Thanh Phu. The objectives of this chapter are: (1) to understand poverty and discover its causes among the poor fishers in Thanh Phong; (2) to evaluate the insufficiency of poverty-alleviating policies for small-scale fisheries in Thanh Phong; (3) to suggest tailored solutions and poverty-alleviating policies for Thanh Phong. Currently, Thanh Phong has a community of 56 fishing households making a living from small-scale fisheries. Illegal fishing gear is still being used, like “day-mung ” nets with a very small (1–1.5 mm) mesh size. With small-scale boats and simple fishing tools, the productivity as well as the commercial value of the fish caught are very low. There is awareness among the households that inshore fisheries’ resources are limited, and that their illegal practices are exhausting the resources. However, the dependence on fisheries’ resources and the absence of alternative incomes force people to use destructive kinds of fishing gears . As a consequence, the vast majority of the poor fishers in Thanh Phong have to face livelihood uncertainty and the threat of increasing poverty. Compared with the poverty line adopted by the government of Vietnam, the poverty rate of 12.7% in 2008 is considered high, and the rate of 13.3% in 2009 is a signal of poverty persistence. Government support is needed to combat poverty, including upgrading the infrastructure and assisting in creation of alternative jobs and better education.

Chapter 16
Creating Action Space: Small-Scale Fisheries Policy Reform in South Africa
The main argument of this chapter centers on whether formalizing governance processes and drafting a small-scale fisheries policy will decrease vulnerability and improve the livelihoods of small-scale fishers. Findings suggest that with no one organization representing fishers in the communities of Struisbaai and Arniston along the southern coast of South Africa , the space is wide open for the elite (rights holders) to capture the benefits. The inability to access rights through formal channels has forced a situation where many fishers resort to poaching, even within the marine protected areas (MPAs). The analytical framework draws on concepts related to the institutional dimensions of fisheries governance; the formal and informal action space for developing a new small-scale fisheries policy for South Africa; and the vulnerability of fishers with weak agency. Data were collected mainly through qualitative methods from key informants, focus group interviews, household interviews, and participatory observations at the local community level.

Chapter 17
Building Resilience: Fisheries Cooperatives in Southern Sri Lanka
Among the many models proposed to address vulnerability and poverty in fisheries, this chapter takes a social capital approach. It focuses particularly on the role of cooperatives in providing small-scale fishers with linking social capital. The latter allows for the transfer of resources from other societal levels, such as government. The chapter is based on a study carried out in two landing centers in the Hambantota District of southern Sri Lanka. Fishers in this region suffer major problems as a result of weakly developed credit, product and insurance markets, increasing costs of fishing equipment, and defiient educational and training services. Cooperatives have played a positive role in all these fi elds, improving the resilience of small-scale fi hing households significantly. Two qualifications are, however, in order. The first is that not all fishing cooperatives in Sri Lanka function effectively. The research sample, which contrasted a well-functioning with a weakly functioning cooperative, demonstrates the range of results available. Second, cooperatives have been more oriented toward promoting welfare than toward resource conservation, and have contributed to a potentially harmful increase of fishing effort. In order to remain successful over the long term, cooperative leaders will need to start paying attention to resource governance.

Chapter 18
Moving out of Poverty: Conditions for Wealth Creation in Small-Scale Fisheries in Mozambique
Over the last few decades, Mozambique has gone through significant political and economic changes moving from a central planning economy to a market economy. The Mozambican government is developing coastal fisheries, enhancing economic productivity and is placing an increasing emphasis on poverty alleviation. Infrastructure is improved and basic common goods have become more accessible in coastal areas. Nevertheless, more than 70% of the population in the coastal areas lives below the poverty line, and effects of recent improvements are still insignificant. Open access to common pool resources in coastal areas has provided the rural population with some degree of food security and shelter during turbulent periods of political changes; the value of the natural resource in terms of being an economic buffer utilized by poor people along the coast, should not be underestimated. New introduced co-management arrangements were targeting the poorest groups, but actually voiced the interests of those who are relatively better off in the coastal communities. New infrastructures related to coastal natural resources, and external groups holding economic interests in the area have resulted in new types of conflicts emerging in the coastal areas. Co-management has focused on solving internal conflicts; in the future, defending local user rights toward other interest groups might become much more important.

Chapter 19
The Merits of Consensus: Small-Scale Fisheries as a Livelihood Buffer in Livingston, Guatemala
Guatemala has among the highest poverty and inequality rates in the Latin American and Caribbean regions. The entire population is affected, but the majority of poor and extreme poor are found among indigenous peoples living in rural areas. It is well documented how privatization and land expropriation have displaced indigenous groups to mountains or scarp terrains sub-optimal for crops, where few income producing activities are to be found. In these cases, poverty is shaped by marginalization mechanisms related to ethnicity. The Amatique Bay, which is the study site for this chapter, is characterized by semi-open access fisheries available for those who have the knowledge and/or production means to harvest. The lack of resource ownership can be regarded as socially fair, as it does not marginalize groups through allocations of specific access rights. Fisheries may be a social buffer providing work, income, and food, thereby mitigating and/or reducing poverty levels. According to fishers in the area, mechanisms inducing poverty are related to resource degradation due to high fishing intensity, unsustainable fishing practices, and to a lesser extent lack of bargaining power. In this chapter, we explore how “Malthusian overfishing” is the result of both internal and external pressures to the fishery, and how fishers believe it can be overcome by trying to control the prevailing conditions that are leading to it.