Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/25480
Small-scale fisheries (SSF) also known as artisanal fisheries, play a critical role in providing socio-economic security in coastal communities. At the same time, their impact on marine ecosystems has become a rapidly emerging priority for progress towards ocean conservation. There is an urgent need to develop sustainable management strategies that overcome the challenges associated with the complex nature of SSF. In coastal Uruguay, geospatial tools have been employed as a mechanism for collecting data to manage the fisheries and enforce spatial regulations. For the purpose of this study, spatial conflicts between and within fisheries sectors provide a context in which the potential applications of geospatial tools can be analyzed. Moreover, interests from both artisanal fishers and the state agency in charge of fisheries management (DINARA) have resulted in a move towards co-management arrangements within fisheries councils (2012), in which fisheries issues are discussed by government and fisher representatives. Through interviews with government and fisher stakeholders (n=17), document analysis, and participant observation in coastal Uruguay, this study investigated the implementation and use of geospatial tools and their role within SSF co-management. Stakeholder perceptions of Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) provided valuable insights to improving their application and use. Findings show that the most frequently perceived benefits included navigational safety, fisheries knowledge and conservation, increased control, and reduced conflict. Substantial challenges associated with geospatial tools were also identified, largely related to insufficient control and enforcement, high costs, and fishers’ non-compliance to management regulations. Stakeholders also perceived lack of trust, communication, training, and education as challenges. Although geospatial tools can play a substantial role in providing essential fisheries data and enforcing spatial restrictions, what is even more important in the context of SSF are the mechanisms and approaches through which these spatial laws are implemented and enforced. It is strongly recommended that any future geospatial tools or spatial regulations are implemented through the fisheries councils. These co-management councils provide a space to increase awareness, improve communication, and facilitate both training and education. Positive stakeholders’ perceptions suggested that co-management can serve as a platform from which geospatial tools can be implemented to help achieve successful fisheries management. In turn, specific geospatial tools can function as a mechanism for strengthening co-management arrangements within artisanal fisheries of Uruguay. This study recommends the application of participatory geospatial tools such as PGIS and participatory mapping to help facilitate early engagement of fishers, incorporate their priorities into decision-making processes, and substantiate their role as stewards of resources and marine ecosystems.