Fishers of Men: Center-Men and Fish Aggregating Device Technology in Dominica
McGaffey, Ethan N.
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Fishers in Desa Ikan, Dominica adopted fish aggregating device technology (FADs) in around 1998. FADs attract large migratory pelagics to known locations and have dramatically increased the catch rate of fishers in the village. Similar growth trends created a less equitable social situation in other small-scale fisheries within a period of about 20 years (Smith, E. , 1977). This study investigates whether social inequality is an emerging consequence of FAD technology. FADs are expensive to build and maintain and groups of fishers pool their resources, making FAD fishing a social endeavor. Thus, this study uses procedures for measuring social centrality (Hanneman and Riddle, 2005) to compare the potential social power between nonFAD and FAD fisher groups and between low and high investing FAD fisher groups. Groups are also compared in terms of several characteristics described in the literature on emergent inequality and on modernizing fisheries that distinguish individuals as members of differing hierarchical social ranks. The potential social power of FAD fishers is also compared in terms of their behavior centering around FADs and how they navigate informal norms that govern FAD behavior. Results of nonparametric tests indicate that FAD fishers tend to be more socially central, but the difference in centrality is not statistically significant. However, high investing FAD fishers are more socially central than other fishers and the difference is statistically significant. Comparing groups in terms of characteristics separating them into hierarchical social ranks is less conclusive. FAD fishers and high investing FAD fishers differ with nonFAD fishers and low investing FAD fishers across some, but not all rank characteristics. Finally, informal norms surrounding FAD behavior in this small-scale fishery may generally favor inclusivity rather than the monopolization of FAD rights.