The Carbon Footprints of Mexican Small-Scale Fisheries Reveal New Insights into Fisheries Management and Policy on a Finite and Warming Planet

Erica Ferrer1, Octavio Aburto-Oropeza2, Catalina Lopez-Sagástegui3, José Cota-Nieto4, Victoria Jimenez-Esquievel4 and Ismael Mascareñas-Osorio4, (1)Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States, (2)University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States, (3)University of Riverside, CA, United States, (4)Centro para la Biodiversidad Marina y Conservación, La Paz, BS, Mexico
Notable studies have explored the carbon footprint of global fisheries, often using data that is coarse relative to the heterogeneity observed across operations. We contend that previous studies which examine the carbon footprint of global fisheries in aggregate have, in the absence of detailed data, very likely underestimated the footprint of small-scale fisheries. We provide evidence of this using fine-scale fisheries data, generated by voluntary monitoring efforts in Northwest Mexico, combined with landings data reported to the Mexican government. Additionally, we calculated the “emissions intensities” of various seafoods produced by small-scale fisheries throughout the region, comparing the footprint of these to other sources of animal protein, such as industrial wild catch and terrestrial livestock. Some of these small-scale fisheries (like clam and crab fisheries) may offer low-carbon to moderate-carbon sources of animal protein, while others (like shrimp fisheries) do not. Connecting these results to prior knowledge of climate change and fishing impacts, and incorporating new ideas about socially-just policy and management in the Anthropocene, we end with a discussion about how to weigh the benefits of certain small-scale fisheries against the social-ecological costs of carbon pollution.