AdvisorStoffle, Richard W.
Committee ChairStoffle, Richard W.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPoverty analysis in fisheries is dominated by assumptions of a linear relationship between fishing, income and poverty. Poverty is seen as a function of income, and income as a function of fish catch. Thus, the analytical frameworks to understand poverty in fisheries, and the policies enacted to reduce it, have focused on issues of overexploitation, regulatory mechanisms to maximize rent extraction, and technological innovation to improve fisheries’ productivity. This set of relations is underpinned by the assumption that improving fish catch per se would reduce fishers’ poverty. The study of fishing livelihoods on Lake Kossou in Côte d’Ivoire problematizes some of these assumptions. I revisit the “essentialization” of fishers with fish by utilizing the Sustainable Livelihood Approach as a lens of analysis, and by demonstrating that fishers’ livelihoods are based on a diversified portfolio of activities that span multiple sectors. Looking at livelihoods also questions the validity of the conventional “sites” of poverty analysis in fisheries (i.e. the boat, the landing site) and how these lead to misrepresentations of fishers’ livelihoods by emphasizing the upstream elements (catches) to the detriment of downstream activities in the value chain (processing and trading) that are crucial in the realization of fishers’ sustainable livelihoods. Looking at the complexity of fishers’ livelihoods sheds light on the relations between poverty (as an outcome variable) and vulnerability as a constant condition that is linked to access to multiple types of assets, the institutional contexts in which they operate, and the ways in which access to natural resources is constantly re-negotiated. To that effect, this study shows how access to Lake Kossou took a completely new meaning when the coffee-cocoa economy collapsed and young Ivorians saw it as an opportunity being stolen from them by Malian fishers. The context of post-colonial national identity formation (epitomized in the search for “Ivoirité”) served as political justification for claiming new rights to natural resources that had been relatively unimportant until then in economic terms. Finally, this study provides an innovative approach to poverty analysis by emphasizing its multiple dimensions, and by utilizing the statistical fuzzy sets methodology to construct multidimensional poverty indices.