Alicia Saldaña, TBTI Master’s student, completed her thesis on ‘ Vulnerability and Viability of Small-Scale Fisheries in Sisal, Yucatan, Mexico‘. Alicia was studying at Memorial University, under the supervision of Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee and Dr. Silvia Salas (CINVESTAV, Mexico).
Alicia’s research examines vulnerability issues and livelihood concerns as well as viability of a coastal, small-scale fishing community in the Yucatan coast of Mexico. In addressing these concerns, several approaches have been developed and applied, yet those are largely externally driven and involve pre-determined vulnerability assessments. Vulnerability is, however, context-specific, i.e., it may mean different things to different people. Therefore, understanding what makes people vulnerable, determining feasible policy interventions for ameliorating such vulnerability, and exploring options for enhancing viability may need to begin with asking people what they think about their own situation.
The thesis brought together two perspectives as an alternative approach. Firstly, a simplified participatory diagnostic approach which allowed for an initial instigation of what vulnerability means from the perspective of fishing community members, and what they consider as possible pathways to reduce their vulnerability and to enhance the viability of their livelihoods. In addition, the interactive governance lens was employed to provide a holistic and systematic description of the characteristics of the fisheries resources, the community, and the governing system, including all actors involved formally and informally, directly and indirectly, in the governance. The outcomes of these two approaches, provide sound advice for the development of fisheries policies that benefit local communities and their surroundings.