Marco A. Janssen (2013). The role of information in governing the commons: experimental results. Ecology and Society 18(4): 4.


The structure and dynamics of ecosystems can affect the information available to resource users on the state of the common resource and the actions of other resource users. We present results from laboratory experiments that showed that the availability of information about the actions of other participants affected the level of cooperation. Since most participants in commons dilemmas can be classified as conditional cooperators, not having full information about the actions of others may affect their decisions. When participants had more information about others, there was a more rapid reduction of the resource in the first round of the experiment. When communication was allowed, limiting the information available made it harder to develop effective institutional arrangements. When communication was not allowed, there was a more rapid decline of performance in groups where information was limited. In sum, the results suggest that making information available to others can have an important impact on the conditional cooperation and the effectiveness of communication.

The Key Role of the Barefoot Fisheries Advisors in the Co-managed TURF System of Galicia


Se ha publicado en la revista AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment un número especial sobreAdaptive Fisheries Management: From Theory to Practice. Junto con Gonzalo Macho, Inés Naya, Sebastián Villasante y José Molares (de las tres universidades gallegas y  Xunta de Galicia) hemos publicado un artículo sobre el papel de las “asistencias técnicas” en la gestión de la pesca de pequeña escala en Galicia, The Key Role of the Barefoot Fisheries Advisors in the Co-managed TURF System of Galicia (NW Spain) (versión pdf). Es el primer artículo donde se analiza el rol e impacto que estas figuras técnicas que trabajan para las organizaciones de pescadores (y no para el gobierno como es habitual en la gestión pesquera) han tenido en la gestión de la pesca de pequeña escala en Galicia. Estas figuras se aproximan al modelo de “barefoot ecologist" como modelo de apoyo técnico a las comunidades en la gestión de sus recursos.

Las universidades de Santiago y Vigo publicaron esta nota de prensa sobre el artículo (“O modelo galego de asistencias técnicas na xestión de recursos marisqueiros despunta a nivel mundial”). Este es el resumen del artículo:

Many authors have pointed out the need for simpler assessment and management procedures for avoiding overexploitation in small-scale fisheries. Nevertheless, models for providing scientific advice for sustainable small-scale fisheries management have not yet been published. Here we present one model; the case of the Barefoot Fisheries Advisors (BFAs) in the Galician co-managed Territorial Users Rights for Fishing. Based on informal interviews, gray literature and our personal experience by being involved in this process, we have analyzed the historical development and evolution of roles of this novel and stimulating actor in small-scale fisheries management. The Galician BFA model allows the provision of good quality and organized fisheries data to facilitate and support decision-making processes. The BFAs also build robust social capital by acting as knowledge collectors and translators between fishers, managers, and scientists. The BFAs have become key actors in the small-scale fisheries management of Galicia and a case for learning lessons.

Synopsis: What do Wikipedia, Zip Car’s business model, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and a small group of lobster fishermen have in common? They all show the power and promise of human cooperation in transforming our businesses, our government, and our society at large. Because today, when the costs of collaborating are lower than ever before, there are no limits to what we can achieve by working together.

For centuries, we as a society have operated according to a very unflattering view of human nature:  that, humans are universally and inherently selfish creatures. As a result, our most deeply entrenched social structures – our top-down business models, our punitive legal systems, our market-based approaches to everything from education reform to environmental regulation - have been built on the premise that humans are driven only by self interest, programmed to respond only to the invisible hand of the free markets or the iron fist of a controlling government.
In the last decade, however, this fallacy has finally begun to unravel, as hundreds of studies conducted across dozens of cultures have found that most people will act far more cooperatively than previously believed.  Here, Harvard University Professor Yochai Benkler draws on cutting-edge findings from neuroscience, economics, sociology, evolutionary biology, political science, and a wealth of real world examples to debunk this long-held myth and reveal how we can harness the power of human cooperation to improve business processes, design smarter technology, reform our economic systems, maximize volunteer contributions to science, reduce crime, improve the efficacy of civic movements, and more. 
For example, he describes how:

  • By building on countless voluntary contributions, open-source software communities have developed some of the most important infrastructure on which the World Wide Web runs
  • Experiments with pay-as-you-wish pricing in the music industry reveal that fans will voluntarily pay far more for their favorite music than economic models would ever predict
  • Many self-regulating communities, from the lobster fishermen of Maine to farmers in Spain, live within self-regulating system for sharing and allocating communal resources
  • Despite recent setbacks, Toyota’s collaborative shop-floor, supply chain, and management structure contributed to its meteoric rise above its American counterparts for over a quarter century. 
  • Police precincts across the nation have managed to reduce crime in tough neighborhoods through collaborative, trust-based, community partnerships.

Pita, Pablo and Freire, Juan. Calming down the seas: the near collapse of an Atlantic coastal fishery. Available from Nature Precedings <> (2010)


For years now the estimates of the consequences of overfishing for marine ecosystems have differed greatly within the scientific community. The use of commercial catch statistics to estimate tendencies has been much criticised, but alternative information sources with long time series are rare. Here we employ the historic archive (1953-2007) of the recreational spearfishery in Galicia (NW Spain), which does not have the problems common to other fishery registers, to estimate long-term changes in coastal ecosystems. Using generalized additive regression models (GAM) we estimated decreases of around 83% in the abundances of coastal fish over the last 50 years. In the same period the average body size decreased by 36%. In addition, the relative catch frequency has decreased for the most valuable commercial species. Commercial overfishing has brought these ecosystems so close to the brink of collapse that it is necessary to implement measures that ensure their recovery.

Videos: Intro to Future of FishIntroducing Synthesis (mostrado aquí), Synthesis: Part Two, Building a Team.

[Vía Design Thinking Blog: Synthesis in Action, parte 2, Building a Team for Design Thinking]

Proyecto Future of Fish desarrollado por Central, un grupo de consultores de estrategia que trabajan desde California aplicando el pensamiento de diseño a organizaciones y la resolución de problemas complejos.

En el caso de Future of Fish aplican los métodos del pensamiento de diseño al análisis de los problemas de la industria pesquera y de los recursos que la soportan y a la generación de ideas para la resolución de problemas. Este proceso lo realizan con la participación activa de los diferentes actores implicados en la industria y la gestión pesquera.


Fish are in serious trouble. Environmental decline, over-fishing, and inept fisheries management have led experts to conclude that within 30 to 40 years many wild fish species will be extinct if we don’t change the way we fish and consume. The decimation of fish will have catastrophic effects on the billions of people who rely on fish for livelihood and sustenance, as well as the fragile marine ecosystem. Already, 80 percent of the world’s marine stocks are overexploited or at their catch limits.

The Future of Fish project—a unique partnership between Ashoka, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Central<, a design strategy firm—takes a new approach in exploring the challenges facing the seafood industry to encourage sustainable methods of fishing that respect species harvest limits, preserve the marine environment, and reduce bycatch.

our project investigates the vital links between fishermen, processors, distributors, retailers, chefs, and consumers in an effort to map new ways for disparate industry stakeholders to collaborate on groundbreaking solutions to a set of complex problems. These stakeholders include businesses, foundations, scientists, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs.

We’ve coupled an entrepreneurial approach to inventing environmental solutions with design thinking, a problem-solving methodology that is rigorous, iterative, collaborative, and informed by human observation. We use a team of entrepreneurs, anthropologists, design strategists, scientific researchers, and writers to mine the myriad transactions and motivations that comprise the complex system defining how fish go from the water to the plate. Those insights drive an initiative to invent and incubate new approaches to the challenge.

This project began with a habit: the program officer working on marine fisheries issues at Packard routinely changes the default homepage in her browser to look for new ideas and new partners. She stumbled acrossChangemakers, an Ashoka program that discovers new innovators addresing social and environmental issues. She picked up the phone, and that chat led to this collaboration.