Arriving in La Paz, the presence of having the Gulf of California aka ‘the largest aquarium in the world’ just off shore is manifested throughout the city by amazing murals, statues, and tortoise shaped waste bins. After meeting up with the rest of the field trip team, Maja Schlüter, Laura Elsler, Xavier Basurto, Bjorn Vollan, Kara Pellowe and Heather Leslie, we continued to the Pacific side of of BCS to visit two fishing cooperatives. The boats belonging to each cooperative where either yellow or red, and grouped in two sections of the beach. The story is that one of the cooperatives had lost their permission to keep their boats there because of the new hotel (fig. 2), but somehow they are back. Hopefully an agreement was made!
The technique to get the boats into the water required that first a truck pulled the boats to the beach, and then a big group of fishermen helped push the first boat into the water. This boat had a rope to the next boat on shore and helped pull this boat out, this boat in turn helped the next and so forth (fig. 3). Fishers where also running and throwing themselves into the boats to make sure to pass the huge waves. Perhaps now I should say that in my research, I have built an agent-based model representing small-scale fisheries just like the this fishery for example (where the fishers are the agents). However there is nothing in the model on how they actually get the boats into the water. Although actually the model captures if a fishing trips takes place or not (because of bad weather), and it is quite clear to me now that under some conditions this is a critical aspect.
Our field trip continued to join another group of free fishers (not belonging to any cooperative), next to Cabo Pulmo on the east coast of BCS. We camped on the beach not far from the fishers beach camp (fig. 4), as they were traveling from a inland village. The first night, we noticed a lot of activity in the fish camp and although it was pitch black and midnight, fishers were going out to fish for red snapper, using hook and line (fig. 5). Because there is another species eating the very expensive bait in the day time, going out at night is the only alternative. Fishers said that some times bait costs more then the income from selling the catch.
After this field trip, we went back to La Paz to have the first work shop of the MAREA project on Ecological and Institutional Diversity in Small-scale fisheries, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Lots of discussions on different types of ecological and social data that was available or needed in the project and how to fit data to the agent-based model that I will be working on. During the second day we made a field trip to Espiritu Santo (fig. 6) to discuss further our research questions and collaborations. This research project, and workshop, brought together a great group of people and I look forward to doing my post doc for the next two years with all of them! You can follow the project on our MAREA website, and read more about the workshop at the GC Marine Program’s blog post.