Behavior of the Galapagos fishing fleet and its consequences for the design of spatial management alternatives for the red spiny lobster fishery

Journal Article

Abstract:

The two most profitable fisheries in the Galapagos Islands, red spiny lobster (Panulirus penicillatus) and sea cucumber (Isostichopus fuscus), are facing steep declines in abundance and may be on the verge of collapse. This state of affairs has emerged in part because of command and control fisheries policies that neglected the importance of the behavior of the fishing fleet itself. Here we attempt to describe and explain the factors influencing the fishing behavior of the Galapagos red spiny lobster fishing fleet. We estimated a set of econometric models based on a random utility maximization process to forecast how changes in the immediate circumstances (economic, biological, climatic and oceanographic) impact voluntary fishing choices via the personal costs and benefits of various decisions. We focused on the factors that affect not only the decision to participate in fishing but also the decision of where to fish. We then use these models to determine the revenue elasticities for each fishing zone and to analyze the overall response of the Galapagos fleet to hypothetical closures of fishing zones. Our results provide some empirical benchmarks from which it is possible to identify in advance problems related to the spatial management of the red spiny lobster fishery and their potential solutions. For example, we found that fisherman from San Cristobal Island have a strong preference for fishing sites on Floreana Island, which is geographically closer to Santa Cruz Island. This could lead to conflicts between the San Cristobal and Santa Cruz fishing fleets if rights-based fishery management were implemented. We expect that our analysis will be valuable to policy makers when designing new types of management plans for Galapagos fisheries.

Citation: Bucaram, S., J. Wilson White, J. Sanchririco, and J. Wilen. 2013. Behavior of the Galapagos fishing fleet and its consequences for the design of spatial management alternatives for the red spiny lobster fishery. Ocean and Coastal Management 78:88-100.