Schuhbauer, A. & Koch, V. (2013) Assessment of recreational fishery in the Galapagos Marine Reserve: Failures and opportunities. Fisheries Research (In Press.)

Abstract: The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) is one of largest marine protected areas in the world. After its establishment in 1998 fishing rights in the GMR were given exclusively to local fishers and only small-scale fishing is permitted. As tourism is exponentially increasing in Galapagos and the two most important fisheries resources have almost collapsed, fishers are seeking alternatives in the more profitable tourism sector. A recreational fishery called “Pesca Artesanal Vivencial” (PAV) was established in 2005, where tourists are taken out by local fishers on their boats to experience an authentic day at sea. Our research focused on the problems which occurred during the implementation of PAV and the suggestions of possible solutions for a future sustainable management. To assess the current situation of PAV in Galapagos information was gathered from captain’s logbooks, port authorities, questionnaires, interviews and participatory workshops. Results show that the implementation of PAV has not been successful. Instead, regular catch and release sport fishing is becoming increasingly prevalent in the Galapagos Islands, organized by tourism agencies, without benefiting the local fishing sector. Stakeholders have very divergent interests, impeding the development of a sustainable management of PAV. Regulations need to be stricter with improved enforcement so that fishers are not only figureheads, but are the real owners who run the business. To allow PAV to develop into a sustainable income alternative for the local fishing sector in Galapagos, a long-term management plan needs to be established, taking into account the current problems described in this analysis.

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