The sustainability of Baja fisheries

Baja California Sur
Sustainability is not just a matter of environmental preservation. More than 9,000 small-scale fishers make their living on the waters off Baja California Sur. The best approach to policymaking considers many interests. Credit: Heather Leslie/Brown University

In 2009, the year she won the Nobel Prize for economics, Elinor Ostrom proposed a framework to integrate both the institutional and ecological dimensions of a pervasive global challenge: achieving sustainability. Now researchers have put Ostrom’s social-ecological systems theory into practice in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. The result is a map of regional strengths and weaknesses that can help guide fishers, conservationists, and other decision makers as they consider steps to preserve the peninsula’s vital coastal marine ecosystems.

Those ecosystems are vital to sustaining fisheries that provide food and income. The value of Ostrom’s SES framework is that it encourages researchers to consider both natural and human values, said Heather Leslie, the Peggy and Henry D. Sharpe Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology at Brown University.
“Using this framework enabled us to integrate many different types of data related to coupled human-environment systems,” said Leslie, first author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We were able to be more comprehensive in our analysis than we would have if we had focused only on the data closest to our individual disciplines.”

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