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Keywords:

  • Poverty reduction;
  • common pool resources;
  • safety nets;
  • economic development;
  • labour buffer

The dominant view in academic and policy arenas is increasingly one in which the major contribution of capture fisheries to development should be derived from the capacity of society to maximise the economic rent of fishery resources. Drawing upon empirical experience from the South, this article highlights the potentially disastrous consequences that a universal implementation of the rent-maximisation model would have in developing countries, and argues that a more gradual approach would be preferable. The welfare function of small-scale fisheries, namely, their capacities to provide labour and cash income to resource-poor households, should be preserved until the appropriate macroeconomic conditions for rent-maximisation and redistribution are fulfilled.