The State and Small-Scale Fisheries in Puerto Rico

Ricardo Pérez

Foreword by Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Series Editor
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"Will not only make a significant contribution to the history of Puerto Rico and the island’s experience with economic development but also will enhance the very few existing anthropological studies of fishing and coastal communities in Latin America and the Caribbean."Maria Luz Cruz-Torres, University of California, Riverside "Ricardo Perez, using closely and insightfully examined data from small-scale, Caribbean ocean fishing communities in Puerto Rico, has
developed an unusually useful analysis of /formation/ -- both of 'modern' local social relations and of capital and state. In particular, Perez has shown us, in this model analysis, how the state both sustains and destroys small scale producers who, in the midst of
all this manage to partly survive, partly reproduce themselves. The reader is in for a treat finding out what 'partly survive' means."--Gerald Sider, CUNY Graduate Center

Based on anthropological and historical research in Puerto Rico from 1996 to 2002, Pérez's study explains how and why state intervention has retarded the development of small-scale fishing economies by discouraging opportunities for capital accumulation in coastal communities.

Drawing on interviews with fishers, fishery agents and scientists, and government officials, along with household surveys and archival research, Pérez analyzes the rural economic development of the southern coast of the island and documents the contradictory effects of fisheries policy and industrial development in three separate fishing communities. Aided by the marketing strategies of the fisheries to create demand for their products, Puerto Rico's development policy stimulated immigration to fill temporary jobs, but this situation resulted in serious degradation of the coastal environment and fishery resources upon which the local population depended. Government intervention in fisheries policy also created contradictions between fisheries development and modernization on the one hand and conservation of fish stocks and resources influencing them on the other.

Pérez employs a variety of historical and ethnographic methods to shape an analysis extending beyond Puerto Rican fisheries to illuminate the discouraging interplay between household-based production regimes, intermittent infusions of state funds and expertise, and the strong stimulant of large-scale, though temporary, development projects.

Ricardo Pérez is assistant professor of anthropology at Eastern Connecticut State University.

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" A clear, highly readable, and engaging account of a small group of people whose survival, though small-scale and local, seems more and more the lot of much of the world"
--Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies

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