Contribution of Subsidies and Participatory Governance to Fishers’ Adaptive Capacity



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© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. The need for strengthening fishers' adaptive capacity has been proposed in the literature as an important component of effective fisheries governance arrangements in the presence of rising numbers of external drivers of change. Within the context of small-scale fisheries, government subsidies have been the main tool used for increasing adaptive capacity. We examine the relationship among adaptive capacity, subsidy programs, and fishers' participation in fisheries management, as a potentially important mediating factor affecting outcomes using a data set from two periods of a fishing community in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Our results show a correlation between those fishers with access to decision-making venues and their reception of subsidies, yet the effect of participation and subsidies on fishers' adaptive capacity is limited. This appears to be due to the authorities' lack of commitment to strengthening fishers' adaptive capacity through subsidies programs, and fishers' lack of trust in the governance processes.





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Nenadović, M, X Basurto and AH Weaver (2016). Contribution of Subsidies and Participatory Governance to Fishers’ Adaptive Capacity. Journal of Environment and Development, 25(4). pp. 426–454. 10.1177/1070496516670448 Retrieved from

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Xavier Basurto

Professor of Sustainability Science in the Division of Marine Science and Conservation

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.

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