A number of methods may be used to monitor socioeconomic aspects of spawning aggregations, and these are discussed in the section on monitoring. In this section of the toolkit, the basic socioeconomic information needs are summarized.
The socioeconomic importance of FSAs should be considered during management planning. Some FSAs have been fished for subsistence purposes for decades, and these activities may support livelihoods. However, when FSAs are fished even under low fishing pressure, the long-term sustainability of the FSA may be compromised. An understanding of the socioeconomic importance of an FSA during management planning is crucial, as fishers are more likely to comply with regulations that take their livelihoods into account.
Managers should focus their efforts by gathering information on the following factors.
- Dependence of local fishers on the site
- Usage of the site by other activities
- Proximity to existing protected areas
- Available resources for monitoring and protection
Level of subsistence and commercial exploitation affecting the FSA. Determine whether the FSA is exploited by the local community as a subsistence food source, or for monetary gain.
Percentage of the fishers' annual catch (in volume or value) that is harvested from the aggregation.
Potential for alternative livelihoods or income for fishers using the FSA. Examples of alternative livelihoods include sport fish guiding, snorkel or dive tourism, and working with scientists monitoring the fisheries themselves.
Level of foreign exploitation or overseas interests.
Consumption patterns of fish taken from the FSA (e.g., local or exported, supply the local tourist market, Live Reef Fish Food Trade).
Sites that are within or close to existing protected areas that are not presently managed, but could be included, and could be identified as priorities for protection.
Existence of customary marine tenure management schemes. Determine if there are any local mechanisms for protection of FSAs already in place.
Capacity and interest of community members in being involved in the management of FSAs. Fishers who have traditionally exploited FSAs may be the most qualified individuals to help monitor these sites; they are often the most knowledgeable, and have a vested interest in conserving them.
It is important to note that while the short-term economic benefits of exploiting spawning aggregations may be significant, the decline of a spawning population represents a decrease in the long-term economic benefit from an entire fishery. The protection of larval sources is an important part of any fisheries management plan.
The answers to the above questions should offer managers a clearer vision of the threats and values of local FSAs. Synthesizing a broad range of factors-socioeconomic, biological, and oceanographic-should point the way to viable conservation priorities and fishery management strategies.
Livelihoods Approaches As Conservation Tool (download pdf, 436k