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The link between risk taking, fish catches, and social standing: untangling a complex cultural landscape

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 11:38 authored by Naranjo-Madrigal, H, Elizabeth Van PuttenElizabeth Van Putten
Understanding linkages between socio-cultural and environmental factors in fisheries promotes a successful response to conflicts. Misunderstanding of resource user's drivers and goals in management interventions can lead to unintended consequences. Holistic analysis approaches are required in order to resolve conflicts for these complex socio-ecological systems. An empirical study of small-scale fisheries in Costa Rica analyses the relationships between fishers and their environment using a Cultural Landscape approach. The cultural landscape is described on three dimensions i) lifestyle and cultural identity ii) fishers´ perceptions of the local environment, and iii) dependence on subsistence catch. A heuristic model was built to improve the understanding of links between these three dimensions facilitating the inclusion of fishers´ expectations in the policy making process. Bi-variate and non-parametric statistics was applied to subsistence catch data and ethnographic attributes to determine the relationships in the cultural landscape. The three-dimensional analysis uncovers that high catch levels are associated with social status, and both are also linked to drug and alcohol use and risk taking. Social status and substance abuse are also linked to lifestyle and job satisfaction. Even though an important ethical consideration arises in this particular fishery with respect to drug and alcohol use, it is evident that taking account of the cultural landscape in fisheries management interventions is likely to improve outcomes. Knowledge of the cultural landscape enhances the understanding of positive feedback links between the social, cultural, and the ecological dimensions of fisheries systems, which may increase the likelihood of sustainable use of fisheries resources.


Publication title

Marine Policy








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Sci Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Environmentally sustainable commercial services and tourism not elsewhere classified; Socio-cultural issues in tourism

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