Bluefin tuna fishery policy in Malta: The plight of artisanal fishermen caught in the capitalist net

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Said, A.E. ; MacMillan, Douglas C. ; Tzanopoulos, Joseph (2016)

The bluefin tuna fishery has undergone a major shift in Malta, moving from an open access artisanal nature to a privatized and industrialized activity dominated by the purse seining fleet and the BFT ranching industry.The shift has been exacerbated by the national implementation of anindividual transferable quota system, which has enabled the concertation of quotas into fewer hands.The main objective of this article is to understand how privatization hasevolved within the sector and the way the Maltese artisanal fishermen are experiencing the shift. This study takes an exploratory mixed-method\ud approach to quantitatively and qualitatively understand how policy underpinnings interplay with the sustainability dimension of the small-scale fishing sector. Results show that the transition of the bluefin tuna fishery from artisanal to industrial has generated a legitimacy crisis over fishing rights, decreased profitability amongst most of the artisanal fleet, and led to a series of socio-ecological impacts on the artisanal fisheries system at large.It is concluded that the neo-liberal trajectories of industrialization have directly undermined the continued sustainability of artisanal fishing communities.
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