SMILI & SMILI-T project

kinoiconThe evolution of self-governance structures in small-scale fisheries

In this project we study two main issues. 1) The evolution of cooperative versus non-cooperative strategies for self-governance in small-scale fisheries and 2) The transformation of a small-scale fishery community from being dominated by fishers working under fish buyers towards cooperative arrangements. We inform an agent-based model with empirical data from a small-scale fishery primarily from Northwest, Mexico, to investigate under which social and ecological conditions these two forms of self-governance emerge, or transform. We are particularly interested in the co-evolutionary dynamics that arise from the interactions between fishermen, fish-buyers, and the fish population they exploit.

SMILI = Small-scale fisheries Institutions and Local Interactions

SMILI-T = Small-scale fisheries Institutions and Local Interactions – Transformations

The non-cooperative fishermen-fishbuyer (or middlemen) relationships such as patron-client relationships, are very common in fisheries around the world and research has indicated that this organisational structure may be detrimental for sustainable resource use as it decouples fishing activities from the dynamics of the fish populations and thus more readily leads to overexploitation. One solution is to promote cooperatives as more equitable fishing arrangements through subsidies and a licensing system. This work aims to identify factors and mechanisms that contribute to this persistence in order to help develop suitable interventions.

People: Emilie Lindkvist, Maja Schlüter, in collaboration with Xavier Basurto, Duke University, NC, USA (2014-2017).


Methods: Agent-based modelling.


  1. SMILI: Emilie Lindkvist, Xavier Basurto, Maja Schlüter (2017, March 09). “SMILI: Small-scale fisheries Institutions and Local Interactions” (Version 1.0.0). CoMSES Computational Model Library. Retrieved from:
  2. SMILI-T: Soon on ComSES (Sept 2020)


  1. Emilie Lindkvist, Xavier Basurto, Maja Schlüter (2017). Micro-level explanations for emergent patterns of self-governance arrangements in small-scale fisheries—a modeling approach. PLOS ONE.
  2. Maja Schlüter, Emilie Lindkvist, Xavier Basurto (In Review 2020). Transformation Towards Cooperative Governance Arrangements in Small-scale Fisheries—Moving Out of the Patron-client Trap