Analyzing the resilience of small-scale fishery value chains during the COVID-19 pandemic: a case study of Puerto Ayora, Galápagos

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) value chains are important social-ecological systems (SES) that are
being threatened disproportionately due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether these systems can
move onto resilient pathways depends on the ability of value chain actors to adapt or transform.
To contribute to the understanding of resilience in SSF value chains during the COVID-19
pandemic, I take a case study approach in this thesis, and apply multiple methods to examine the
fisheries value chain in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos. This entails 1.)
implementing network analysis to map and compare the value chain as it was pre-COVID-19,
during the local four-month “quarantine”, and after quarantine in the “recovery” period, 2.)
tracing finfish landings, prices and quantities demanded by value chain actors over the
COVID-19 periods, and 3.) analyzing qualitative survey data regarding the adaptations and
perceptions of actors. From these methods, it reveals mechanisms for maintaining and/or
building social-ecological resilience through identifying how the system persists, adapts, and/or
transforms between the three COVID-19 periods. This involves analyzing the capacity of actors
and the value chain as a unit to cope with change and uncertainty without reducing the ability of
the system to maintain its “identity.” The results illustrate that value chain actor groups (i.e.,
fishers, intermediaries, and restaurants) can self-organize, learn and actively adapt to change, and
thus the SSF value chain is resilient. Value chain actors became less connected within the
industry during the quarantine period, but became more connected during the recovery period
due to transformations at the intermediary level and actor adaptations that supported increased
connectivity, such as e-commerce, door-to-door delivery, and proactive trading. I discuss the
implications of changes in network connectivity, actor centrality, price, and biomass flows, and
relate them to the value chain’s capacity to support local livelihoods, food security, and
sustainable fisheries.