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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Cooperative Community of Punta Abreojos: Seeking Solutions to the Pressures of Small-Scale Fishing


There is a concern regarding the sustainability of current global fishing effort and how to most effectively manage common pool fisheries resources. Without the allocation of appropriate property rights, both industrial and small-scale fisheries are susceptible to the tragedy of the commons due to the open access nature of un-regulated fisheries. To address this risk of fishery overexploitation, some isolated, small-scale fishing communities have formed cooperatives as a management tool to improve livelihood options and provide access to property rights for some fishery resources. The Fish Production Cooperative Society of Punta Abreojos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, is a good example of a highly organized fishing cooperative in existence since 1948. Through the use of interviews, this study uncovers the perceptions and opinions of the cooperative fishers to answer the question of what characteristics are necessary to sustaining a well functioning cooperative. There are many economic and social benefits of being a member, but the highest specific response was the ability to take out loans. The most common perceived threats to the success of the cooperative are the occurrences of natural phenomena. Members realize the importance of following the rules set by the cooperative, but the motivations for doing so change the longer a fisher works in the cooperative. Results indicate that fishers consider protection of resources, economic security, unity, and progress essential for maintaining their cooperative. Punta Abreojos is an example of a community that has worked for generations to become marine stewards while maintaining an economically viable fishery.

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