The Punta Allen cooperative as an emblematic example of a sustainable small-scale fishery in the Mexican Caribbean

Periodo de realización: 1900/01/01 al 2015/06/01

Tipo: Artículo científico

Resumen: "We present an institutional ethnography and historical case study of the Vigía Chico fishing cooperative, located in the community of Punta Allen within the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an, México. The top producer of spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) in the state of Quintana Roo for over 30 years, this cooperative has been claimed as an example of a sustainable artisanal fishery. To better understand and assess this success story, we performed an in-depth study of multiple factors to analyze their influence on the cooperative’s success. The indicators selected were level and form of social organization, resilience to socio-environmental perturbations, changes in fishing gear, and the fishing concession as avenue to cementing institutional success. We conducted ethnographic fieldwork over five months, complemented by an in-depth analysis of the cooperative assembly’s minutes. We found that the knowledge the cooperative acquired of the functioning of Mexican public policies was a factor in their success. Cooperative leaders were able to translate that knowledge in ways that benefitted the cooperative, enabling them to build a set of policy-responsive operational rules that could be effectively applied to artisanal fisheries more broadly. The isolated conditions of the area and the presence of natural perturbations such as hurricanes forced the community to increase their willingness to cooperate, and improved their capacity to respond as a group to perturbations. These successes in turn demonstrated the value of cooperative approaches to achieve individual and collective livelihood goals, within and beyond fishing. Such approaches have been further enhanced by the incorporation of academic knowledge and scientific techniques. We conclude that Punta Allen is a successful example of a community that has managed to creatively engage public policy instruments and translate them into effective local practices, enabling organizational persistence despite repeated changes in policies governing fisheries in Mexico."

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