University Of Tasmania

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The role of patron-client relations on the fishing behaviour of artisanal fishermen in the Spermonde Archipelago (Indonesia)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 02:37 authored by Minarro, S, Forero, GN, Reuter, H, Elizabeth Van PuttenElizabeth Van Putten
Patron-client systems are ubiquitous in small-scale fisheries and are thought to have an important role on the way marine resources are exploited. With the aim of identifying key differences between fishermen with a patron and independent fishermen, questionnaires were used to obtain individual socio-demographic characteristics and perceptions of fishing behaviour of fishermen in Spermonde (Indonesia). Catch assessments of landings were carried out and differences between dependent and independent fishermen evaluated. Fishermen with patrons had more valuable catch with a higher portion of live fish while independent fishermen were more engaged in subsistence fishing. Fishermen with patrons had higher turnovers than independent fishermen, but this result was contested after accounting for additional costs resulting from their indebtedness. Comparison between perceived and empirically measured data showed that fishermen with patrons underestimated their expected daily catch. The results suggest that belonging to the patron-client system affects fishing behaviour by making fishermen use less diversified gears and increase their focus on commercial fishing. The consequence of this is an apparent reduced amount of seafood provision for the household and possibly greater ecological impact due to the use of cyanide, a destructive fishing method. While the patron-client system has gained attention as a potential institution to promote sustainable exploitation practices, the data analysed here suggest that the patron-client relationship indirectly causes a worse environmental impact by encouraging higher exploitation rates. The implications are that bringing the patron-client system on board sustainable fishing policies may require context-dependent considerations of cultural obstacles and social complexities.


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

Copyright 2016 Elsevier Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems