Fishers’ perceptions of global change to inform coastal planning in a data-poor socio-ecological system

Global change has a significant impact on coastal populations and their reliance on coastal ecosystems and resources. This is particularly true for small-scale fisheries (SSF) in Brazil, where limited data exacerbates their vulnerability. Acquiring local user knowledge is crucial to enhancing the sustainability of SSF. In Rio Formoso, Northeast Brazil, a fisher’s association plays a vital role in conserving coastal ecosystems and raising awareness about anthropogenic activities. This study examines various social, governance, economic, and ecological aspects of Rio Formoso fisheries, focusing on fishers’ perceptions of global change. We carried out individual and collective interviews, participatory mapping, and discourse analysis. Rio Formoso fisheries stood out by the diversity of their activities (gears, species, habitats), women’s leading role, and the intense involvement of the association in coastal management initiatives. Fishers reported decreased abundance and biodiversity, and increased demand for their products. They perceived the threats to their fishing activities posed by the consequences of global change, including temperature and rainfall modifications, pollution generated by anthropogenic activities, and conflicts with tourism. Social challenges, such as gender discrimination against fisherwomen and the ongoing struggle for fishers to be included in policy-making decisions, further hinder fisheries’ sustainability. This study demonstrates the valuable insights gained from fishers’ perceptions in a data-poor system, enabling a preliminary global assessment to identify conflicts, social challenges, ecological concerns, and suitable actors to lead feasible and acceptable policies. As conflicts and community concerns can provide opportunities for co-management, it is imperative to operationalise community-based management tools, particularly in Brazil, to alleviate fishers’ struggles in meaningful decision-making involvement.



Pelage, L., Bertrand, A., Siqueira, S. C. W., Araújo, A. C. A. P., Avelino, K. V. A., da Silva, C. L., & Frédou, T. (2023). Fishers’ perceptions of global change to inform coastal planning in a data-poor socio-ecological system. Marine Policy, 155, 105784.