Fish provision in a changing environment: The buffering effect of regional trade networks


Local and regional trade networks in small-scale fisheries are important for food security and livelihoods across the world. Such networks consist of both economic flows and social relationships, which connect different production regions to different types of fish demand. The structure of such trade networks, and the actions that take place within them (e.g., people fishing, buying, selling), can influence the capacity of small-scale fisheries to provide sufficient fish in a changing social and ecological context. In this study, we aim to understand the importance of networks between different types of traders that access spatially-distinct fish stocks for the availability and variability of fish provision.

We deployed a mixed-methods approach, combining agent-based modelling, network analysis and qualitative data from a small-scale fishery in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The empirical data allowed us to investigate the trade processes that occur within trade networks; and the generation of distinct, empirically-informed network structures. Formalized in an agent-based model, these network structures enable analysis of how different trade networks affect the dynamics of fish provision and the exploitation level of fish stocks. Model results reveal how trade strategies based on social relationships and species diversification can lead to spillover effects between fish species and fishing regions. We found that the proportion of different trader types and their spatial connectivity have the potential to increase fish provision. However, they can also increase overexploitation depending on the specific connectivity patterns and trader types. Moreover, increasing connectivity generally leads to positive outcomes for some individual traders, but this does not necessarily imply better outcomes at the system level.

Overall, our model provides an empirically-grounded, stylized representation of a fisheries trading system, and reveals important trade-offs that should be considered when evaluating the potential effect of future changes in regional trade networks.


Publication info: González-Mon, B., Lindkvist, E., Bodin, Ö., Zepeda-Domínguez, J.A. & Schlüter, M. 2021. Fish provision in a changing environment: The buffering effect of regional trade networks. Plos One 16(12), e0261514.