I am currently a doctoral student in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Bio-economics program at the Universidad Marista de Mérida, Yucatán, México. Prior to enrolling in this program, I worked with a regional fisheries organization which focuses on fisheries management and development; fisheries policy and planning; and fisheries research and resource assessment in the Caribbean.
For my thesis, I will be working in the small fishing community of Punta Allen, Quintana Roo, México and focusing on the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus fishery. The fishery operates in Bahía de la Ascensión (Ascension Bay) which is 750 km2 in size and consists of both mangrove and coral reef habitats. Ascension Bay and the Punta Allen community are both a part of the Sian Ka’an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which covers approximately 6,808 km2 of land and was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987.The Reserve also includes a northern portion of the Mesoamerican Barrier reef and is Mexico’s third largest protected area. The main economic activities of the Punta Allen community are the spiny lobster fishery and eco-tourism.
The spiny lobster fishery is based on a co-management, territorial user rights approach, where fishers of the Punta Allen community have exclusive rights to harvest spiny lobsters using artificial shelters within individual areas of Bahia de la Ascensión, known as “campos.” Our work will be focused on the bioeconomic aspects of the fishery and will seek to determine if there are differences among the habitat areas relating to sizes of the spiny lobster harvested, revenues, profits and casita densities. We will also seek to identify which factors are most influential in determining the harvest strategies of fishers, and we will examine the implications for management and the sustainability of the fishery.