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Middlemen, a Critical Social-Ecological Link in Coastal Communities of Kenya and Zanzibar.

Crona, B., M. Nyström, C. Folke and N. Jiddawi. Marine Policy 34:761-771(2010).


This paper analyzes the middlemen–fishermen link in coastal communities along the coast of southern Kenya and Zanzibar, and explores effects of reciprocal agreements and credit arrangements on social- ecological feedbacks of coastal systems. The existence and generality of such arrangements are mapped and their effect on resource use and ecosystem dynamics is then explored. Data show that credit arrangements are widespread and that fishermen are bound by reciprocal agreements and financial guarantees during periods of lower catches that provide short-term stabilizing social effects. These arrangements create incentives which disconnect resource extraction from ecosystem dynamics and impede development of sustainable use practices. The role of middlemen is seldom accounted for in fisheries governance. Scenarios for the development of small-scale fisheries in the region are outlined and the function of middlemen is discussed considering the influence of external drivers. Policies that incorporate middlemen are recommended to improve the governance of fish stocks and coastal ecosystems in East Africa.

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Keywords: Small-scale fishery Middlemen, Social-ecological systems, East Africa, Ecosystem management, Resilience

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