Cooperation, Competition, and Attitude Toward Risk of Small-Scale Fishers as Adaptive Strategies: The Case of Yucatán, Mexico

  • Silvia SalasEmail author
  • Oswaldo Huchim-Lara
  • Citlalli Guevara-Cruz
  • Walter Chin
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 19)


There is a worldwide recognition of the challenges that fishing communities face with respect to changing environments, market integration, and different sources of uncertainty. In this context, to be able to implement policies oriented to increase adaptive capacity in fishing communities and improve fisheries governance, it is important to understand the factors underlying fishers’ attitudes, the decisions they make, and the strategies they develop to face uncertain conditions. We present two case studies from the Yucatán coast in Mexico that reveal the complex and challenging realities of marine resource use in fishing communities and highlight why it is necessary to enhance adaptive capacity for good governance in small-scale fisheries. In both cases, we observed risk-averse and risk-prone attitudes in fishers’ operations in response to changing conditions. In one case, cooperative actions were observed in the community, but those arrangements have been changing in response to increasing uncertainty in catches, the participation of newcomers, and unreliable surveillance. We argue that the decrease in resource abundance, lack of social capital, and weak institutions can increase overall uncertainty and prompt diverse responses from fishers to compensate for such conditions. We contend that strengthening the adaptive capacity of people in fishing communities can be promoted through cooperation among community members, scientists, and public institutions as the first step toward improving fisheries governance.


Adaptive capacity Cooperation Risk Safety Governance Uncertainty 



We thank community members from Dzilam de Bravo and Río Lagartos, Yucatán, Mexico. Data provided by the fishing cooperative’s logbooks were very useful. Financial support was obtained from CINVESTAV and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for the case studies. Huchim-Lara O. and Guevara C. were supported by a fellowship from CONACYT for their PhD and master’s programs, respectively; part of their dissertation research is integrated in this chapter. Miguel A. Cabrera and Alicia Saldaña helped in sand database management.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvia Salas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Oswaldo Huchim-Lara
    • 2
  • Citlalli Guevara-Cruz
    • 3
  • Walter Chin
    • 4
  1. 1.Marine Resources Department, Cinvestav MéridaYucatánMexico
  2. 2.Universidad Marista de MéridaMéridaMexico
  3. 3.Centro de Estudios Tecnológicos del MarMéridaMexico
  4. 4.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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