CIE Spotlight: Drivers of the Distribution of Fisher Effort at Lake Alaotra, Madagascar

Emily N.

Emily N.

Authors: Wallace, Andrea P. C.; Jones, Julia P. G.; Milner-Gulland, E. J.; Wallace, Graham E.; Young, Richard; Nicholson, Emily

Source: HUMAN ECOLOGY, 44 (1):105-117, FEB 2016

Brief summary of the paper: Understanding how fishers make decisions is important for improving management of fisheries. There is debate about the extent to which small-scale fishers follow an ideal free distribution (IFD) – distributing their fishing effort efficiently according to resource availability rather than being influenced by social factors or personal preference.

Using detailed data from 1800 fisher catches and from semi-structured interviews with over 700 fishers at Lake Alaotra, the largest inland fishery in Madagascar, we show that fishers generally conform to IFD. However, there were differences in catch: effort relationships between fishers using different gear types as well as other revealing deviations from the predictions of IFD.

Fishers report routine as the primary determinant of their choice of fishing location, explaining why they do not quickly respond to changes in catch at a site. Understanding the influences on fishers’ spatial behaviour will allow better estimates of costs of fishing policies on resource users, and help predict their likely responses.

This can inform management strategies to minimise the negative impacts of interventions, increasing local support for and compliance with rules.