Environmental Conservation

EC Perspectives

Poverty and the use of destructive fishing gear near east African marine protected areas

J. E. CINNERa1a2 c1

a1 ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, 4810, Australia

a2 Wildlife Conservation Society, Marine Programs, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, NY 10460, USA


Poverty may be an important influence on the exploitation of marine resources in tropical developing countries. A number of studies have hypothesized that destructive fishing gears, which can degrade habitat, capture high proportions of juvenile fish and ultimately lead to reduced yields, are primarily used by the poorer segments of society. However, few studies have empirically tested this relationship. This paper examines relationships between the use of destructive seine nets and thirteen socioeconomic conditions in communities adjacent to three peri-urban marine protected areas in east Africa. Fishers using destructive gears were younger, less likely to have capital invested in the fishery, had lower fortnightly expenditures and were poorer in two multivariate indices of material style of life. Based on the two multivariate material style of life indices, a binary logistic regression model classified whether fishers used destructive gears with almost 70% accuracy. These findings are broadly consistent with the literature on poverty traps, which are situations in which the poor are unable to mobilize the resources required to overcome low-income situations and consequently engage in behaviour that may reinforce their own poverty. Managers aiming to reduce destructive gear use may need to partner with civil society and donors to help break poverty traps.

(Received August 09 2009)

(Accepted December 21 2009)


c1 Correspondence: Dr Joshua Cinner, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811 Australia e-mail: joshua.cinner@jcu.edu.au