How locally designed access and use controls can prevent the tragedy of the commons in a Mexican small-scale fishing community
The Seri people, a self-governed community of small-scale fishermen in the Gulf of California, Mexico, have ownership rights to fishing grounds where they harvest highly valuable commercial species of bivalves. Outsiders are eager to gain access, and the community has devised a set of rules to allow them in. Because Seri government officials keep all the economic benefits generated from granting this access for themselves, community members create alternative entry mechanisms to divert those benefits to themselves. Under Hardin's model of the tragedy of the commons, this situation would eventually lead to the overexploitation of the fishery. The Seri people, however, are able to simultaneously maintain access and use controls for the continuing sustainability of their fishing grounds. Using insights from common-pool resources theory, I discuss how Seri community characteristics help mediate the conflict between collective action dilemmas and access and use controls. Copyright © 2005 Taylor & Francis Inc.
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