Small-Scale Fisheries versus Whale-Watching Tourism: The Story of Puerto López


  • María José Barragán Paladines Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research GmbH (ZMT), Germany


More often than not, fish and fisheries are seen as commodified assets in a market-driven economy and have rarely been understood in terms of their cultural and historical dimensions. However, small-scale fisheries are still highly relevant for fishing communities which have abandoned the activity in search of more profitable businesses (e.g., tourism). This situation has affected fishers, who are losing their livelihood and their way of life, and has compromised their access to fish as food, and hence their food sovereignty. Consequently, the future generation’s ability to meet their needs without fishing is at risk. This article discusses small-scale fisheries, the intergenerational ethics behind their practice, and how these are connected with the food sovereignty discourse.

Author Biography

María José Barragán Paladines, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research GmbH (ZMT), Germany

María José Barragán-Paladines obtained a PhD in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Canada. After her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, she pursued a MSc degree in Sustainable Resource Management at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, where she addressed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and wildlife management. Later, a shift in her interests and research focus took her to Canada where she brought together the human dimensions perspective and the interactive governance approach, applied to marine resources governance and protected areas settings. In past years she conducted research about MPAs governance (e.g., Galapagos Marine Reserve) in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, integrating small-scale fisheries, tourism, and coastal-marine resources and communities. She was formerly involved with the Too Big to Ignore (TBTI) Project–Global Partnership for Small-scale fisheries Research. Currently, she is a Post-Doctoral researcher in the “Development and Knowledge Sociology” Working Group at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, ZMT, in Bremen, Germany. Her current research focus concerns governance of coastal-marine resources in Latin America, with special attention to the small-scale fishing resources and fishing communities. She can be reached at