Incorporating fishers’ evaluation of adaptive capacity in policy making in Thailand

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Small-scale fishers around the world are facing many challenges in sustaining viable livelihoods due to diverse factors such as declining fisheries resources, degradation of coastal habitats, and climate change impact, among others. How fishers respond to change depends in part on their evaluations of adaptive capacity, and an understanding of factors underlying their evaluations can be helpful in guiding policies and programs to reduce vulnerability and build resilience. The paper presents a study of twelve small-scale fishing communities in eastern Thailand, which illustrates the multiplicity of factors influencing attitudes, beliefs, values and cognitive biases (ABVCs) concerning adaptive capacity. First, the ABVCs of small-scale fishers toward adaptation to changes and the reduction of fishery resources were elicited using a structured survey. Next, principle component analysis was performed on the survey results of 266 respondents, which revealed that the ABVCs concerning adaptive capacity are related to three main components: ability to change occupation (Options component), ability to compete (Ability component), and ability to plan for changes (Plan component). The final step identified factors influencing the adaptive capacity components with the use of regression analysis. Specifically, the ability to change work is positively related to level of education, and negatively associated with age and high dependency on fishing income. Satisfaction with income and with individual well-being determine the ability to compete. The ability to plan for changes, on the other hand, is influenced by evaluated level of closeness to nature, the factor that is expected to be associated with conservation behavior. The findings can aid in designing policies and interventions that align with the adaptive capacity of fishers; hence, enhancing viability and contributing to increasing resilience of small-scale fishing communities.

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Fisheries Research