Political making of more-than-fishers through their involvement in ecological monitoring of protected areas

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© 2020, Springer Nature B.V. One strategy for ecological monitoring of protected areas involves data collection by local resource users instead of external scientists. Growing support for such programs comes from their potential to both reduce costs and influence how resource users perceive and support protected areas, but their effects on participants are only beginning to be understood. We contribute to this growing research area through an in-depth study of how participants, their close kin, and their peers perceived the individual and community-wide effects of an ecological monitoring program. We examined the case of fishers’ involvement in ecological monitoring of a marine protected area network in Baja California Sur, Mexico, organized since 2012 by the Mexican non-governmental organization Niparajá. Based on in-depth interviews and participant observation in 2016 and 2017, we found that the most salient effect of the program was personal growth. Participants described becoming “more than a fisher” through newly gained civic and environmental awareness, ecological knowledge, and self-confidence in public speaking skills. Respondents also identified health risks from diving and emotional burdens on participants’ families. Overall, other resource users in their communities seem to be supportive through reputational benefits of participants. These effects overlap with but seem more extensive than those documented in other citizen science programs. Environmentality provides a suitable explanation of the processes at play, where the act of monitoring is far more than data collection, intertwining participants’ fortunes (for better or worse) with the political fate of the protected area network itself.





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Quintana, Anastasia, Xavier Basurto, Salvador Rodriguez Van Dyck and Amy Hudson Weaver (2020). Political making of more-than-fishers through their involvement in ecological monitoring of protected areas. Biodiversity and Conservation, 29(14). pp. 3899–3923. 10.1007/s10531-020-02055-w Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22288.

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Xavier Basurto

Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor

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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