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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 617-618:365-376 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12942

Assessing the economic viability of small-scale fisheries: an example from Mexico

Anna Schuhbauer1,*, Andrés M. Cisneros-Montemayor1,2, Ratana Chuenpagdee3, U. Rashid Sumaila1,4

1Fisheries Economic Research Unit, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
2Nippon Foundation Nereus Program, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
3Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL A1B 3X9, Canada
4School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, 6476 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are generally understudied, their impacts on marine ecosystems not well documented and their vulnerability to large-scale change processes not fully recognized. A better understanding of the dynamics and underlying drivers of SSF is imperative given their important contributions to local economies and community wellbeing. We argue that an assessment of the economic viability of SSF can help improve governance for this sector. Economic viability is defined here as the net benefit to society from fisheries, accounting for subsidies that represent a private benefit to fishing sectors but a cost for society at large, that are above or equal to zero over time. We developed an approach to assess economic viability using data that is often available at national scale, including estimates of total revenue from fishing, total costs of fishing, and fisheries subsidies for SSF and large-scale fisheries (LSF). We applied the methodology to Mexican fisheries and found that LSF receive subsidy amounts disproportionate to their landings and employment relative to the SSF sector; when these subsidies are taken out, SSF are generally more economically viable than their LSF counterparts. To improve the economic viability of SSF, key recommendations include the redirection and redistribution of subsidies, better monitoring, and improved access to data.


KEY WORDS: Economic viability · Financial viability · Fisheries subsidies · Mexican fisheries · Artisanal fisheries · Net benefits to society


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Cite this article as: Schuhbauer A, Cisneros-Montemayor AM, Chuenpagdee R, Sumaila UR (2019) Assessing the economic viability of small-scale fisheries: an example from Mexico. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 617-618:365-376. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12942

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