Coastal aquaculture and resources management in the Mecoacan estuary, Tabasco, Mexico
By dealing with aspects of coastal aquaculture and resources management, an analysis is herein presented at the macro-scale using GIS techniques for the coastal zone of Tabasco state, and at the micro-scale with the description of the characteristics of a coastal community located in the Mecoacan estuary. Transfer of appropriate aquaculture technologies and introduction of sustainable farming systems are major challenges. The total area identified for aquaculture development through the GIS modelling accounted for 23 462 ha, 80% of which were located in the Centla Biosphere Reserve (Centla and Macuspana). The suitable area identified through the multi-criteria evaluation provided a structure in which requirements for aquaculture development could be met. An analysis of the fanning systems in the Mecoacan estuary was carried out to understand local attitudes, capabilities and processes and evaluate whether the potential identified by the GIS modelling can be realised. The results from participatory assessments showed that conditions within Mecoacan cooperatives have deteriorated and increasing interest in restructuring the organisations is regarded as a means of integrating employment and income generation alternatives such as aquaculture practices, to support and improve current levels of fisheries production, and to achieve gains in market development. The analysis of the economics of Mecoacan fishermen suggests that rural problems have not yet been engaged in progressive policies. It seems that previous forms of governance have been maintained to shore up power instead of laying the groundwork for viable rural production, as it is clear that some fishermen are competitive while others are not, regardless of whether or not they are associated in cooperatives. The large-scale exploitation of resources, degradation of the environment and increased conflict over resources in coastal communities suggest the need of an integrated multi-sectoral approach. A strategy towards an integrated coastal management for Tabasco coastal zone is discussed, including those related to aquaculture development.