, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 204–213 | Cite as

Lessons for resource conservation from two contrasting small-scale fisheries

  • Hampus Eriksson
  • Maricela de la Torre-Castro
  • Steven W. Purcell
  • Per Olsson


Small-scale fisheries present challenges to management due to fishers’ dependency on resources and the adaptability of management systems. We compared social-ecological processes in the sea cucumber fisheries of Zanzibar and Mayotte, Western Indian Ocean, to better understand the reasons for resource conservation or collapse. Commercial value of wild stocks was at least 30 times higher in Mayotte than in Zanzibar owing to lower fishing pressure. Zanzibar fishers were financially reliant on the fishery and increased fishing effort as stocks declined. This behavioral response occurred without adaptive management and reinforced an unsustainable fishery. In contrast, resource managers in Mayotte adapted to changing fishing effort and stock abundance by implementing a precautionary fishery closure before crossing critical thresholds. Fishery closure may be a necessary measure in small-scale fisheries to preserve vulnerable resources until reliable management systems are devised. Our comparison highlighted four poignant lessons for managing small-scale fisheries: (1) diagnose the fishery regularly, (2) enable an adaptive management system, (3) constrain exploitation within ecological limits, and (4) share management responsibility.


Adaptive management Coral reef Fisheries Governance Invertebrate Sea cucumber 



Financial and logistic support was received by Direction de l’Agriculture et de la Forêt (DAF), and Conseil General de Mayotte. Thanks to Narriman Jiddawi, Léonard Durasnel, Julien Wickel, Alban Jamon, Didier Frey, Rébecca Guezel, and Karani Saindou for field support. Thanks to Jason Benedict at WorldFish for assistance with GIS. This study was funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA). Per Olsson was supported by Mistra through a core grant to the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. Hampus Eriksson thanks his previous employer the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hampus Eriksson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maricela de la Torre-Castro
    • 3
    • 4
  • Steven W. Purcell
    • 5
  • Per Olsson
    • 4
  1. 1.WorldFishPenangMalaysia
  2. 2.Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS)University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Physical GeographyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  4. 4.Stockholm Resilience CentreStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  5. 5.National Marine Science CentreSouthern Cross UniversityCoffs HarbourAustralia

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