Analyzing Fishing Effort Dynamics in a Multispecies Artisanal Fishery in Costa Rica: Social and Ecological System Linkages

  • Helven Naranjo-Madrigal
  • Andrew B. Bystrom
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 19)


Research on fishery fleet dynamics and fisher behavior often rely on rational economic assumptions to explain decision-making processes based on cost and income expectations as an input to management strategies. However, understanding the complexity of small-scale fisheries, which are defined by their importance as a source of income, employment, food security, and cultural traditions, requires the use of emerging systemic thinking concepts to face the challenges involved in their management. In this study, fishing effort dynamics and two types of diver behavior are analyzed within the multispecies fishery at Playa Lagarto, Costa Rica. We sought to answer whether or not the allocation of fishing operations that defines fishing effort responds to only the rational economic theory or to other dynamics related to the fishery’s social and ecological systems. Also, given different dive methods, tactics, and factors that define catch variability, fisher behavior drivers were explored. A combination of surveys, interviews, and a participatory diagnostic approach were used to collect data during fishing trips. Although some target species were common to both dive methods, differences in the spatial and temporal allocation of fishing effort were evident due to different fishing tactics. When facing environmental constraints, social interactions fostered cooperative tactics in order to maintain or even increase their catches. Given these results, a set of recommendations were outlined that could improve sustainability and strengthen the socio-ecological resilience of the fishery.


Bentho-demersal artisanal fishery Fishing effort allocation Participatory diagnostic approach Resampling-based hypothesis testing Socio-ecological fishery system 



We thank the fishers of Playa Lagarto who made this study possible. We also thank the local seafood buyers and all of those who collaborated in this study in one way or another. We warmly thank Ingrid van Putten at CSIRO for her remarkable editing work and valuable comments on the manuscript. We have received helpful reviews from Silvia Salas in early versions of this paper. The authors would also like to thank the anonymous referees for their constructive comments. This study forms part of the doctoral thesis of the first author at CINVESTAV U. Mérida. Financial support from ALNA S.A and CONACYT is acknowledged by the first author.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helven Naranjo-Madrigal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew B. Bystrom
    • 3
  1. 1.Consultant Services DepartmentALNA S.ASan JoséCosta Rica
  2. 2.Programa de Maestría en Ciencias Marinas y CosterasUniversidad NacionalHerediaCosta Rica
  3. 3.Unidad de Investigación Pesquera y Acuicultura (UNIP), Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR)Universidad de Costa RicaSan PedroCosta Rica

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