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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Case

SummaryThe Galapagos Islands are a remote archipelago located 900km west of continental Ecuador. Due to their isolation, the Galapagos Islands are home to a huge number of endemic terrestrial and marine species, making the area incredibly valuable for research, education, and conservation. However, high marine productivity has lead to the intensification of both fishing and tourism in the Islands. Due to increasingly severe social conflicts and environmental degradation, the Galapagos Marine Reserve was established in 1998 under the Special Law of the Galapagos.
TeamMontreal Protocol Team
Start Date2014-05-11 18:05:09 -0400
Coding Complete?No
SectorMarine protected areas
Data Source(s)Secondary data
External Biophysical
External Social
Modeling Issues


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Attached Components


Galapagos Artisan Fishermen
Past collaboration:
Low (1)
No long history in the area. Little collaboration regarding fishery yields and minimum landing size occurred prior to the establishment of the fishing cooperatives and Participatory Management Board mandated under the Galapagos Special Law.
Costs of exit:
Coded as no, because although there are costs associated with leaving the fishery (including debt repayments) these are not 'very high' as many fisherman have now left the fishery during the time period being coded and have moved into the tourism sector.
Proportionality (of costs and benefits):
Fishermen are part of cooperatives and during the peak fishery were involved in many meetings and protests, this would have involved considerable time but they got the outcomes they wanted so coded as yes. Currently the fishery is closed, but there was a commitment to convert fishing permits into tourism permits.
Interest heterogeneity:
Medium (2)
Variety of fishers spread across different islands
Formal leader
There is an elected president for each of the four fishing cooperatives, one of which represents the fishing sector on the PMB.
Leadership authority:
High (3)
One President (elected from the four) is responsible for representing the Galapagos fishing sector at meetings of the Participatory Management Board at which management decisions regarding the Galapagos Marine Reserve are made.
Actor group trust:
Medium (2)
Fishermen wouldf come toegther for meetings and organise themselves when issues affected them, and therefore assume there must be some level of trust for the cooperative to function in this manner.
Personal communication:
More than once a year (5)
No specific information on the frequency of meetings was found. However, regular meetings do occur for each cooperative, and General Assemblies summoned when significant decisions must be made at which the members of the cooperative are obligated to attend.
Remote communication:
More than once a year (5)
Assume some remote communcation occurs
Leadership accountability:
High (3)
Leaders (Presidents) are elected by the members of the fishing cooperative. Presidents are subject to the scrutiny of the unionized members of their cooperatives, and may be changed or deprived of their positions if internal conflicts arise.
Actor group coordination:
Both formal and informal
It is unclear if fishing cooperatives engage in regular formal meetings. However, it is evident that the fishermen coordinate their opinions and concerns, which are then voiced by a cooperative representative at the formal meetings of the Participatory Management Board. Therefore it is likely formal meeting occur.

Governance Systems

Environmental Commons

Galapagos Sea Cucumber
Moderately Productive (2)
Sea cucumber fisheries are popular throughout the Indo-Pacific but are prone to over-exploitation. Coded as moderately productive, as their productivity could be considere higher than turtles or whales which have been coded as poorly prodcutive. Low sea cucumber densities do not allow for spawning aggregations necessary for high reproductive rates, resulting in low fertilization rates. Breeding success is directly related to densities of adult individuals, and stocks are consistently below legal threshold. (Hearn et al., 2005)
Commons aggregation:
Population Brown sea cucumber (Isostichopus fuscus). Manged as region stocks as opposed to the archipelago stock as a whole.
Commons unit size:
Small (2)
Adults 20-30cm, with suggested lifespan of 12-17 years.
Commons mobility:
Medium (2)
Sea cucumbers are slowly mobile, with little movement of sea cucumbers between islands.
Commons spatial extent:
coded as the spatial extent of the GMR. Although Isostichopus fuscus is found across the Eastern Pacific http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5501e/y5501e0e.htm
Environmental medium:
Oceanic Shallow coastal waters (2-40m depth)
Commons heterogeneity:
Moderate (2)
found in shallow coastal waters and distributed around all islands of the archipelago in varying densities.
Intra annual predictability:
High (3)
With no fishing, little variation in numbers within a given year Density-dependent for reproduction - and density required is unknown.
Inter annual predictability:
Moderate (2)
Sea cucumbers are density-dependent for reproduction - and the minimum density required is unknown. They take approximately 4 years to mature. Recruitment rates vary due to climate and oceanic conditions (e.g. el nino)
Technical substitute:
Commons boundaries:
Clear boundaries (3)
Found in the coastal zone at 28-39 m depth. http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5501e/y5501e0e.htm
Commons renewability:
Renewable (1)
Sea cucumbers are renewable, however exhibit very low reproductive and recruitment capacity. (Hearn et al., 2005)
Commons accessibility:
Very accessible (3)
Sea cucumbers inhabit shallow coastal waters and are conspicuous and lsow moving making them accessible given a boat and diving equipment.
Commons indicator:
["Status of species targeted by fisheries"]
This species (Isostichopus fuscus) is the most common commercial species found in the Eastern Pacific (Maluf, 1988) and was once known as the most conspicuous invertebrate of the shallow littoral zone in the Galapagos Islands (Wellington, 1974).

Component Interactions

Biophysical Interaction

Galapagos Sea Cucumber Fishery

Interaction is not complete.

Galapagos Sea Cucumber (Environmental Common)