Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Roderick Neumann

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Peter Craumer

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Gail Hollander

Third Advisor's Name

Laura Ogden


fisheries, social capital, Florida Keys, technocratic management, sustainability

Date of Defense



Commercial fisheries in the Florida Keys have experienced a significant decline in participation and harvest over the past two decades, with over half of the fishers exiting the fishery since 1990 and a 50-70% decline in annual landings compared to previous decades. The conventional narrative of fisheries management identifies overfishing and overcapacity as the malaise endemic to open-access fisheries systems, for which the remedy offered is technocratic management. Technocratic management, which seeks to restore ecological integrity and economic efficiency, has been increasingly employed in the Florida Keys, in the form of limited access and property rights measures. I contend that the technocratic management approach is flawed and in a large part responsible for the decline of Florida Keys fisheries because the approach has ignored social sustainability, leading to a significant reduction in fisher participation, the fragmentation of fishing communities, and erosion of social capital. Technocratic management has also underestimated the importance of non-fishery factors, unique to place, and these factors – including population, tourism, and globalization factors – have exacerbated the impacts of management measures. The net result has been the opening up of scarce and valuable coastal space, which was previously occupied by fishers, fish houses and processors, and other fisheries infrastructure, to conversion for non-working waterfront uses. While measures have been undertaken to foster fisher participation and slow down waterfront conversion, these have largely failed due to the measures’ inability to address the core problem, which is the flawed management approach that undermines social sustainability. I provide a revised, comprehensive fisheries management framework that, if implemented, can at least address some of the technocratic management’s shortcomings and prevent further decline in fisher participation and fisheries decline.





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