Collective Impact: Fisheries and Inter-Sectoral Collaboration

Eric Mercier
Publicado: 15 Octubre 2015
Última edición: 30 Septiembre 2020
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Quintana Roo (Mexico) has a high marine productivity, but over-fishing and coastal development are leading to a decline of key ecosystems due to pollution and habitat loss. Climate Change is an additional stress factor to this already impacted environment. Lack of artisanal fishermen’s participation in fisheries management has resulted in unsustainable species extraction. To enable change and facilitate collaboration for conservation, the Kanan Kay Alliance was founded as an inter-sectorial coalition promoting shared responsIbility through collective action. Its goal is to protect 20% of the territorial sea through a network of fish refuges; fostering fishermen's participation in fisheries management.


El Caribe
Escala de aplicación
Arrecifes coralinos
Ecosistemas marinos y costeros
Pradera marina
Acceso y participación en los beneficios
Actores locales
Conocimientos tradicionales
Manejo espacial de la zona marino-costera
Marco legal y normativo
Medios de vida sostenibles
Pesca y acuicultura
Servicios ecosistémicos
Cosecha insostenible, incluida la sobrepesca
Extracción de recursos físicos
Cambios en el contexto socio-cultural
Falta de capacidad técnica
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Deficiente vigilancia y aplicación de la ley
Deficiente gobernanza y participación
Objectivos de Desarrollo Sostenible
ODS 11 - Ciudades y comunidades sostenibles
ODS 12 - Producción y consumo responsables
ODS 14 - Vida submarina
ODS 17 - Alianzas para lograr los objetivos
Metas de Aichi
Meta 5: Pérdida de hábitat reducida a la mitad o reducida
Meta 6: Gestión sostenible de los recursos vivos acuáticos
Meta 11: Áreas protegidas y conservadas
Meta 14: Los servicios ecosistemicos
Meta 18: Conocimiento tradicional
Meta 19: Intercambio de información y conocimiento
Metas del marco de Sendai
Meta 2: Reducir el número de personas afectadas a nivel global para 2030
Meta 3: Reducir las pérdidas económicas directas por desastre en relación al PIB para 2030


Quintana Roo, México



  • Overexploitation of fished stocks.
  • Lack of effective adaptive management tools, especially in the face of climate change.
  • No-take fishing zones are still low in coverage.
  • Need for sustained protection in time, and bigger surfaces, in order to understand and evaluate all ecological impacts.
  • Lack of effective connectivity between no-take zones.


  • Poor enforcement poses the major threat not only for biodiversity replenishment, but also hindering social acceptance and support for this fisheries management tool.
  • Fish refuges are a fairly new strategy in Mexico, given that the first no-take areas have just been renewed for the first time at national level and are no more than 5 years old. This generates uncertainty about the mechanisms of participation of the fishing sector in the definition of public policies.


  • Need to evaluate ecosystem services and asses environmental value.
  • Need to improve tools for understanding and implementing blue economy solutions.


  • Fishing organizations
  • Civil society organizations
  • Local, regional and national government
  • Academia (researchers)
  • Private initiative: Tourism sector (diving, recreational fishing) and local businesses (fish and seafood shops)

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

Theory of change based on the steps needed to foster collective impact: 

  1. Empowerment of fishermen. A comprehensive diagnosis on the socio-economic situation of the fishing organizations needs to be conducted prior to start working with coastal communities. This includes a gap-analysis and finally, capacity-building is provided.
  2.  Once the socioeconomic universe is understood, inter-sectorial collaboration is fostered by the backbone organization (Kanan Kay Alliance) and follow-up is conducted.
  3. It is time for on-the-field work. It is crucial to achieve specific and tangible results at early stages so that the momentum and motivation for change is maintained. In the Alliance, we choose to do that by implementing a specific fisheries management tool (fish refuges). 
  4. Financial compensation needs to be addressed to prove that conservation efforts are not confronted to sustainable economic growth. Fishermen participate the scientific monitoring during the closed fishing season and receive a compensation for that. 
  5. It is crucial to have a strong legal and institutional framework so that lack of enforcement doesn’t hinder the overall performance of the initiative.

Impactos positivos

  1. A network of 16 fish refuges that protect more than 18,000 hectares of coral reefs, seagrass meadows and coastal wetlands has been established since 2012.
  2. The first generation of fish refuges (no-take fishing areas) has been renewed for a period of five more years, as an initiative of the fishermen.
  3. Fishermen conduct scientific monitoring, community surveillance, participate in capacity-building workshops and are key stakeholders in the decision-making.
  4. The Kanan Kay Alliance has been active for more than five years as a collaborative network promoting the agreement upon a common agenda, establishing shared measurements, fostering cross-collaboration


The Kanan Kay Alliance is a voluntary member-based initiative that aims to act as the backbone organization to achieve collective impact. It involves around 40 members from the government, fishing cooperatives, civil society organizations, academic researchers and private donors. Work is being done to improve governance whilst strengthening the role of the fishing organizations in this network.


Jorge Urdapilleta

At one General Assembly, Kanan Kay Alliance members discussed which terminology to use when referring to “fish refuges” as opposed to "no-take zones". For some governmental representatives, changing to a different term that was both technically correct and easy to understand made a lot of sense. For the fishermen, however, changing the term would have been synonymous with betraying the overall goal of the Alliance. The discussion reached a point where the fishermen were prepared to exercise their power of veto and leave the assembly if the term were to be changed. In the end, the Alliance decided to keep the term, as it was of great importance to the fishermen. This incident helped increase the fishermen´s confidence in a joint management approach and its successful implementation. The fishermen realized that members were equal partners, all committed to the same mission of developing responsible fisheries.

Contribuido por

Imagen de ineslopezercilla_32276

Inés López , Alianza Kanan Kay

Contribuído por

Alianza Kanan Kay
Alianza Kanan Kay