Institutional and ecological interplay for successful self-governance of community-based fisheries
The goal of this paper is to improve our understanding of the role of institutional arrangements and ecological factors that facilitate the emergence and sustainability of successful collective action in small-scale fishing social-ecological systems. Using a modified logistic growth function, we simulate how ecological factors (i.e. carrying capacity) affect small-scale fishing communities with varying degrees of institutional development (i.e. timeliness to adopt new institutions and the degree to which harvesting effort is reduced), in their ability to avoid overexploitation. Our results show that strong and timely institutions are necessary but not sufficient to maintain sustainable harvests over time. The sooner communities adopt institutions, and the stronger the institutions they adopt, the more likely they are to sustain the resource stock. Exactly how timely the institutions must be adopted, and by what amount harvesting effort must be diminished, depends on the ecological carrying capacity of the species at the particular location. Small differences in the carrying capacity between fishing sites, even under scenarios of similar institutional development, greatly affects the likelihood of effective collective action.
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