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The importance of small-scale fishing to rural coastal livelihoods : a comparative case-study in the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea Bissau

This study compares the significance of small-scale fishing (SSF) for local Bijagós and in-migrant residents on the Island of Uno, Guinea Bissau, by integrating quantitative and qualitative analyses into four empirical chapters. The role of commercial SSF as an occupational safety-net is explored. Determinants of contemporary involvement in fishing are presented. Catch dynamics of the in-migrant fleet are reviewed and the significance of protected areas and protected species discussed. Finally, the adoption of livelihood strategies is investigated, through an analysis of the asset-constraints underpinning local and in-migrant household economies. Bijagós male villagers recall substantial former involvement within commercial SSF. In-migrant fish-workers describe entry strategies into SSF which differentiate long-standing members from new arrivals. Late entrants driven by political and economic circumstance support the role of SSF as a safety-net which provides an escape from chronic poverty. Demise of the local sector is attributed to an over-riding commitment to animist initiation rituals, (from which control of land and labour flow) coupled with declining agricultural yields and growth of in-migrant fishing. Today, fishing for the Bijagós is a marginal, mainly subsistence-based activity. In contrast, in-migrant workers display little non-fishing occupational involvement. Resultant conflict between these groups illustrates disempowerment of the Bijagós villagers. In-migrant landing surveys highlight the persistent use of local and State Protected Areas while illustrating the overlap between commercial near-shore fishing grounds and potential elasmobranch nurseries. Household economic surveys reveal the importance of cash loans in promoting endurance of the SSF sector. The insights delivered from this analysis inform our understanding of the constraints and limitations of existing management arrangements, which govern the commercial SSF sector in this region.
Date January 2014
CreatorsCross, H. C.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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