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© Kamla-Raj 2009

J Hum Ecol, 26(1): 9-18 (2009)

Adaptive Management Response of a Rural Fishery Community Due to Changes in the Hydrological Regime of a Tropical Coastal Lagoon
Eduardo Batllori-Sampedro and Jose Luis Febles-Patron Human Ecology Department, Center of Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV-IPN) Km 6 carretera Antigua a Progreso, C.P. 97310, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico Fax: 52999 9814670, E-mail:
KEYWORDS Adaptive Processes. Integrated Coastal Management. Tropical Coastal Lagoon. Artisanal Fisheries. Chabihau. Mexico ABSTRACT In the coastal community of Chabihau, Yucatan, Mexico, hurricanes Gilbert (1988) and Isidore (2002) opened breaches in the coastal dune. The government modified these breaches with a floodgate, channels, and bridges,allowing tidal influx that has transformed the swamp ecosystem into a coastal lagoon. Our long-term research (19902006) has been based on participatory methods including identification of needs, introduction of technical changes, monitoring of modifications, and facilitating evaluations by local users. Researchers have documented their work with both women’s and men’s groups, as well as with communityauthorities and open assemblies of residents. Government agencies generally practice sectorial management, which focuses on a single sector or subject, even though it considers impacts and interdependencies with others (for example, fishing, road serviceability, protected areas, territorial zoning, and municipal strengthening). In contrast, this community (with its researchers/advisors) hasstruggled toward integrated coastal management, which focuses on guiding the necessary changes to maintain quality of life for human communities dependent on local ecosystem services, including those of coastal basins and extensive marine areas. Our findings question the accepted practice of designing conservation projects in centralized hierarchical structures that leave little space for localmaneuvering and negotiation.

INTRODUCTION Historically, the coastal area of Yucatan has been affected by the booms and crises of agricultural activities conducted inside the State (Fraga 1996) from the Pre-Classic Mayan period until the mid 20th century. Its entailment was extensive and complex: salt extraction, copra activities, fishery in cenotes (karstic sinkholes), swamps and lagoons for localconsumption, as well as coastal navigation ports for the departure and access of a great variety of natural resources, wich is best known the sisal fiber or henequen (Quezada 2001). The current structural conformation of the Yucatan coastal zone has passed through six major periods in almost 60 years (Baños 2000): In the period from 1950 to 1970, when the last agricultural crisis took place (sisalactivity), a process of structural change of socio – environmental relations began, resulting in a migration process of the rural community toward the coast, finding a series of obstacles in its incorporation to a newly rising mercantile fishery activity, in the search for minimal levels of survival (Fraga 1996). Among the main obstacles

are due to differentiated work processes of to thetechnical-productive changes that existed before and after the 60s. Through time, start a strong tendency to increase the tourist use – summertime, particularly in the municipality of Progreso, linked with the growing of certain social classes in the metropolitan area of the city of Merida. Starting in the 70s, the capitalist expansion to boost industrial fishery activities began, mediated by interventionof the State and the public sector, outlining an environmental territory based on the promotion of organized groups of the social sector (cooperatives, rural societies, etc), accelerating the social division of the production and the specialization of the activity into three important species: grouper, octopus and lobster (Quezada 1996). In the decade of 1980, the productive specialization led...