The place of artificial reefs in the lives of small-scale fishers in Terengganu, Malaysia
Mohd Jani, Jarina
Mainly deployed with the objective of enhancing fisheries resources, artificial reefs began to gain scientific attention in the 1970s. They continue to be a popular agenda in fisheries management, largely due to their potential in improving the lives of coastal communities. Current performance evaluations of artificial reefs, however, continue to focus more on reef effects on the biology and fishing gain of the area where they are deployed. This is despite repeated calls to expand the performance evaluation to include input from artificial reefs users. This thesis examines the dimensions of small-scale fisher- folks' relations with artificial reefs in Terengganu, Malaysia. Using the livelihood approach, the research focuses on non bio-economics data and explores the "currently ignored" domains of artificial reefs to examine the various components of small-scale fishers' livelihood-making. It reveals important insights of the social, cultural, economic, political and ecological changes that have been affected by artificial reef programmes from the perspectives of fishing communities. Based on the results of in-depth interviews carried out in Setiu, Terengganu, it is concluded that although artificial reefs are perceived to enhance local fisheries resources, small-scale fisher-folks' opportunity to benefit from them depends much on how artificial reefs fit into these fishers' fishing strategies, which are strongly related to their livelihood assets, particularly their social and human capitals. Furthermore, artificial reefs' impacts on Setiu small-scale fishers' livelihood are related to their effect on illegal commercial fishery in the area, where although their presence do deter trawl fishery, artificial reefs are paradoxically an ideal fishing site for purse seine fishery. By exploring these various human dimensions of artificial reefs, the thesis offers a broader perspective on the evaluation of this complex marine phenomenon.