Navigating the complexity of small-scale fishery interventions: An intersection of agent-based modeling and participatory empirical research

Keywords: Data-poor systems, Gender Dynamics, Mechanisms, Western Indian Ocean, Octopus, Marine Protected Areas, Interventions, Intersectionality

Project participants:Emilie Lindkvist, Liz Drury O’Neill, Tim M. Daw, Maja Schlüter, and Jineth Berrío Martínez from Stockholm Resilience Centre together with Rosemarie Mwaipopo from University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Andrew Wamukota from Pwani University, Kenya.

Collaborations: Mwambao Coastal Community Network, Blue Ventures, Flora and fauna International, and other organizations.

Funders: Swedish Research Council (VR, FORTE, and FORMAS) and SIDA.

About the OctoPINTS project

The livelihood and nutrition of millions of people are dependent on small-scale fisheries (SSFs) currently threatened by climate change and industrial development compounding challenges of overfishing, poor governance, and gender inequalities. To meet these challenges, communities and NGOs in East Africa are adopting periodic octopus closures as an innovative way to balance livelihoods and sustainability. The rapid growth and high value of Octopus provides quick payoffs, but how do these innovations enable communities to cope with pressures and shocks in the longer term? How do they change relationships between people and ecosystems? What is the impact for gender relations and equitable benefits?

This collaborative project harnesses the potential of co-developed social-ecological models and case studies to synthesize local expertise, understand key mechanisms, explore long- and short-term outcomes and socially differentiated impacts. The scientific novelty draws on the intersection of three emerging fields, the role of gender in SSFs, the use of agent-based models to explore social differentiation and resilience, and participatory approaches that support iterative, collaborative learning. The project will 1) develop transdisciplinary research feeding learning into intervention implementations through partners and broader networks and 2) identify key mechanisms that underlie sustainable outcomes in SSF to move towards contextualized explanations of key sustainability issues.

Overarching Project Aims

  1. Untangle what defines success of Octopus closures for different stakeholders in Zanzibar and across the WIO.
  2. Identify the mechanisms leading to successful outcomes in Zanzibar and across the WIO
  3. Reveal the trade-offs between short- and long-term outcomes and between different social groups within fishing communities in Zanzibar.
  4. Understand fishers and fish workers perceptions of closures in Zanzibar in different points in time and how that affects fishers’ motivations and actions.

We take a gendered perspective, thus include gender, and gender processes, in our understanding of success, mechanisms and trade-offs as well as in the models we develop.

We are approaching our final year and are currently writing up the first fieldwork around compliance and octopus closures, as well as developing the agent-based model in combination with that data.

Want to know more? check out our website www.octopints.wordpress.com

Best Emilie