A new study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography finds that even with the most efficient and sustainable practices, small-scale fishing in the Gulf of California cannot support a living above the poverty level.
Researchers from Scripps and the University of British Columbia found that two-thirds of the small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California are in danger of over-exploitation.
“Our results demonstrate that fisheries have a maximum economic capacity. Failing to recognize that will harm our efforts to conserve marine resources and to provide economic security for coastal communities,” said lead author Alfredo Giron, a graduate student at Scripps.
While fishermen around the world are often recognized as vulnerable groups frequently living in poverty, governments have promoted an increase in the number of people trying to make a living out of this activity.
“We would not like the only take-home message to be that the only solution to achieve sustainable fisheries is to have fewer fishers, but it definitely needs to be part of the conversation,” said Giron.
But in areas with large numbers of fishers, such as Mazatlan and Guaymas, even if depleted stocks recover, fishermen would not earn enough money to pay for food, education, health services and clothing. For the Gulf of California as a whole, as much as 80 percent of fishers would continue to live in poverty, according to the study.
The study will be published Monday in the journal Fish and Fisheries.
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