Governing the commons beyond harvesting: An empirical illustration from fishing
Harvesting has received most theoretical, empirical, and policy attention towards understanding common-pool resource dilemmas. Yet, pre-harvesting and post-harvesting activities influence harvesting outcomes as well. Broadening the analytical focus beyond harvesting is needed to imagine new ways of theorizing and governing the commons. Fishing—which is synonymous with harvesting—is a case in point.
We contribute to a beyond-harvesting research agenda by incorporating concepts from common-pool resources theory that have not received enough attention in the literature. We compare two ubiquitous self-organizing strategies (i.e., fishing cooperatives and patron-client relationships) fishers use to access means of production and analyze their effects on the distribution of benefits resulting from harvesting. We use rarely available longitudinal data of monetary loans to fishers in Mexican small-scale fisheries and find that cooperatives can deliver broader distribution of benefits than patron-client relationships.
Our study highlights the importance of historically and contextually situating analyses linking the effects of pre-harvesting processes on harvesting outcomes, and the benefits of broadening the scope of inquiry beyond a narrow policy attention on harvesting to move towards a fuller understanding of commons dilemmas.
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