Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Proceedings of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations - Tenure and User Rights in Fisheries

Publication Date


Conference Sponsor

Food and Agriculture Organization

Abstract/ Summary

The fishery for ark clams or mangrove cockles (Anadara tuberculosa and A. similis) has been culturally and economically important in communities that depend on mangrove forests throughout the Pacific coast of Latin America since pre-Columbian times. In Ecuador, more than 3 000 artisanal fishermen manually harvest bivalve molluscs of the genus Anadara. However, this fishery has been vulnerable to harvesting pressures and habitat destruction. For almost three decades, researchers and international organizations have increasingly recognized the value of Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs) as a tool for achieving marine conservation and socially equitable outcomes in fisheries management. Since 2000, the Ecuadorian government began granting mangrove concessions to local fishing associations to promote mangrove conservation and sustainable use in fisheries. Many of those fishing associations designed management plans for benthic resources (such as cockles and crabs) similar to TURF arrangements in other parts of the world. This paper explores how these institutional arrangements contribute to the goals of sustainability with particular attention to challenges and tradeoffs. The mangrove concessions have created conditions that promote habitat health necessary for fishery productivity while strengthening resource rights, enabling communities to pursue sustainable fishing-based livelihoods for present and future generations. On the other hand, the creation of exclusive access rights for particular user groups has also exacerbated tensions among independent cockle gatherers that feel they are increasingly losing access to their customary fishing grounds. Moreover, fishing pressures and a lack of compliance with the minimum size regulations continue to threaten the sustainability of the fishery. Understanding tradeoffs in Ecuador's integrated approach to coastal management may provide valuable insights for the management of other small-scale benthic fisheries within multiple-use coastal zones. We recommend it is necessary to create opportunities for diversified livelihoods in locations where TURFs or similar forms of territorial use privileges are implemented.



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