In this article, we analyze a change in the role of federal institutions in charge of managing Mexican fisheries during the mid-1990s. During 30 years, the fishery policy in Mexico began by promoting an accelerated fishing effort. This worked through 1981, when the country recorded its highest landings (1.6 million metric tons), but landings have not increased subsequently whereas the number of fishermen has continued to increase. In 1995, the federal administration acknowledged the problems: biological over-exploitation; over-capitalization; monopoly in commercialization; failures in loan payments; failures in controlling effort; obsolete vessels and equipment; and social conflicts for the resources. In an attempt to resolve some of these problems, the administration implemented structural changes in management, science and enforcement institutions. This arrangement established goals and introduced instruments in fisheries management: it determined the biological status of most of the fisheries; applied the precautionary approach for those fully exploited or over-exploited fisheries; gave scientific advice an important role in decision making; and involved the users in decision making. This article evaluates these changes in management policy by document review, participation and interviewing management and scientists who participated in this process. We analyze, in particular, the use of science-based categorization of fisheries status, and the introduction of public participation. The interview data demonstrate that sustainable Mexican fisheries require an evolution to a more public participatory policy, in order to strengthen local institutions and fishermen over federal institutions, which should lead to a re-definition of regulation of fisheries resources.
Ocean & Coastal Management – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2003
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