Preferred resource spaces and fisher flexibility: Implications for spatial management of small-scale fisheries
Human Ecology, Vol. 40 No. 2 Pages: 213-226
AbstractMany fisheries management interventions are in the form of spatial regulations that change fishers’ access to fishing grounds. How fishers respond to regulations directly affects the ecological and socioeconomic outcomes of management objectives, but little attention is paid to fishers’ willingness and ability to make spatial adjustments. We investigate the spatial preferences of small-scale fishers in Sabah, Malaysia, within a framework of mental maps and perceptions. We find that the majority of fishers fish within preferred resource spaces that were heavily influenced by perceptions of safety. Most fishers exhibit low flexibility to adapt to spatial changes, based on i) unwillingness to travel beyond preferred resource spaces; ii) unwillingness to leave the fishery; and iii) low to no alternative employment opportunities. We emphasize the need to uncover and understand human dimension parameters to reduce uncertainty surrounding human behaviour, and ultimately facilitate the attainment of fisheries management objectives.