Dividing the Waters: Resource Use, Ethnic Relations, and Community-Based Management among Fishermen on the Southern Haitian-Dominican Border

This study examines small-scale fishing activities and recent community-based efforts at managing fishing on the southern Haitian-Dominican border. There is evidence that local marine resources, including the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) and queen conch (Strombus gigas), are in decline, and state-level regulation of fishing in the border area is sporadic and inefficient. Both Haitians and Dominicans openly fish on either side of the border, and hundreds of fishermen of both nationalities squat illegally in a national park on the Dominican side of the border. While there are some norms among fishermen concerning access rights and acceptable equipment, these norms do not have a great influence and fishing is largely open access.

Competition between fishermen and the perceived decline in local marine resources has led to territorial disputes between Haitians and Dominicans and tension between fishermen using traditional equipment and those using newer technologies; these tensions are often phrased in the same idiom as the centuries-old antagonism between Haitians and Dominicans. Local Haitian and Dominican fishermen’s associations have taken preliminary steps to address conflicts between groups of fishermen and to control exploitation of local resources, but their management efforts face challenges

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