Fishing accords: The political ecology of fishing intensification in the Amazon
This study addresses human responses to environmental change. In particular, it analyzes fishing accords, a recent local fishing management instrument created by the floodplain populations in the Amazon. The dissertation identifies the major factors related to the emergence, maintenance, and performance of the fishing accords in order to examine the incentives to create this local management system, and its potential ecological outcomes. Data were obtained by combining secondary data from local publications, and primary data from community census and extensive fieldwork between 1991 and 1997 including interviews, participant observation, and structured questionnaires on household socioeconomy and fishing production. A regional analysis of the fishing accords in ecological, historical, socioeconomic, and institutional contexts highlights the major factors influencing its emergence and maintenance. Then, a community-based analysis of two cases of fishing accords evaluates the variability of performance between the two communities. Finally, a summary of the theoretical findings is presented that relate fishing accords to floodplain co-management for the Lower Amazon. The findings reveal the importance of human agency in the performance of local management systems. The heterogeneity of ecological opportunities and local social organization present in floodplain communities creates diverse incentives to individuals to participate in this collective endeavor. The study finds that fishing accords can improve the ecological system when the local population is able to control local decisions, can solve internal conflicts, has access to other resources, and when the ecosystem can be managed by local rules. Therefore, fishing accords are not a panacea to improve fishing productivity or provide fish conservation. Rather, formal recognition of those institutions should rely upon an evaluation of the social features of the population as well as of the ecological features of the system to be managed in order to determine the degree of fit.
0792: Fish production