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Maricela De la Torre Castro

Professor i Naturresurshushållning

View page in English
Arbetar vid Institutionen för naturgeografi
Telefon 08-16 17 48
Besöksadress Svante Arrhenius väg 8
Rum V 318
Postadress Inst för naturgeografi 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

Professor in Natural Resource Management

Key words of my research:

Coastal/marine governance and management


Seagrass as social-ecological system

Small-scale fisheries (finfish and invertebrates)

Gender in the coastal zone

Social-ecological systems



Responsible for the master/magister program in Environmental Health Protection

(2012 - 2018)

Responsible for the master program in Landscape Ecology

(2016 -)

Main courses I teach

Management of Ecosystem Services (Course leader)

Environmental Management for BIOGEO (Course leader)

Climate and Society (Co-responsible for the social aspects)

Political Ecology (Lecturer)

Geografi and Natural Resources (Lecturer)

Management of Aquatic Resources in the tropics (Lecturer)

Landscape Ecology (Lecturer)


Current projects:

  • Gender and adaptive capacity to climate change (VR project)
  • Small-scale fisheries governance, management and overall sustainability
  • Sea cucumbers as highly valued marine products
  • Seagrasses as social-ecological systems mainly in the Western Indian Ocean

Doctoral students:

  • Felicity Pike (Start 2019, main supervisor, assistant supervisor Lars Lindström)
  • Benjamin Jones (Start 2018, assistant supervisor, main Johan Eklöf)
  • Hampus Eriksson (Defended in 2012)
  • Sara Fröcklin (Defended in 2014)
  • Sieglind Wallner-Hahn (Defended in 2017)

Please see my page in ENGLISH for more information


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2016. Sieglind Wallner-Hahn (et al.). Marine Policy 72, 199-210

    The aim of this study was to empirically assess institutional aspects shaping fishers' behavior leading to unsustainable resource use, by using the example of destructive drag-net fishing in Zanzibar, Tanzania. A broad institutional approach was used to specifically assess institutional factors influencing the fishers' reasons for the current use of destructive drag-nets as well as their willingness- and economic capacity to change to less destructive gears. Different regulative, normative, cultural-cognitive and economic factors (tradition, group-belonging, social acceptance, common practice, identity of drag-net users and weak economic capacity) were identified as critical elements influencing the current use of destructive gears, as well as obstructing changes to other gears. Hence, the importance of addressing all of these factors, matching to the different contexts, rather than focusing on fast-moving regulative measures, is emphasized to increase chances of management success. More promising approaches would be resource allocations to more sustainable fishing gears, well-managed gear exchange programs, as well as alterations of slow-moving normative and cultural factors, e.g. awareness raising on the advantages of more sustainable fishing gears, their traditional and cultural values, information on the actual income they generate, as well as education and an exchange of traditional knowledge on how to use them.

  • 2015. Sieglind Wallner-Hahn (et al.). Ocean and Coastal Management 107, 16-27

    Marine ecosystems generate a wide variety of goods and services, but are globally deteriorating due to multiple drivers associated with anthropogenic activities. Intense fishing pressure can lead to changes in structure and function of marine food webs. Particularly overfishing of predatory species at high trophic levels can cause cascading effects leading to ecosystem degradation, affecting both marine organisms and people dependent on them. In the Western Indian Ocean region, intensive fishing takes place and degradation of coral reefs and seagrass beds has been documented. One reason behind this degradation is overgrazing by increasing numbers of sea urchins. An essential step towards better management is to thoroughly understand the drivers leading to such changes in ecosystems. Against this background, the general aim of this study was to gain understanding about whether sea urchin predators in the WIO region are fished, and to identify the drivers behind the fishing of these species. The study had four objectives: (i) to document if and how predatory fish eating sea urchins are caught in smallscale fisheries, (ii) to assess if, and if so why, sea urchin predators are targeted species, (iii) to assess if and to what degree local ecological knowledge (LEK) on ecological complexity involving sea urchins and their predators (e.g. trophic cascades) is present among local fishers, and (iv) to identify fishers' suggestions for management that can reduce problems linked to sea urchin overgrazing. The results show that all investigated species of sea urchin predators are fished by local small-scale fishers. Most sea urchin predators are not actively targeted, are not popular local food fish, and have minor use and economic importance for fishers. This stands in sharp contrast to their ecological keystone role by controlling sea urchin populations. The fishers' awareness and LEK were weak and partly lacking. Management suggestions targeted mostly the symptoms of food web changes rather than the drivers behind them.

    Based on the results we suggest that management of degraded ecosystems, as a result of food web changes, should encompass a wide variety of strategies and scales. Specific suggestions for sea urchin predator management are education of local stakeholders on destructive gear effects and food web complexity, further investigations of catch- and release fishing as well as the use of selective gears.

  • 2015. Alma Strandmark (et al.). Ambio 44, s28-S38

    Coastal habitats are situated on the border between land and sea, and ecosystem structure and functioning is influenced by both marine and terrestrial processes. Despite this, most scientific studies and monitoring are conducted either with a terrestrial or an aquatic focus. To address issues concerning climate change impacts in coastal areas, a cross-ecosystem approach is necessary. Since habitats along the Baltic coastlines vary in hydrology, natural geography, and ecology, climate change projections for Baltic shore ecosystems are bound to be highly speculative. Societal responses to climate change in the Baltic coastal ecosystems should have an ecosystem approach and match the biophysical realities of the Baltic Sea area. Knowledge about ecosystem processes and their responses to a changing climate should be integrated within the decision process, both locally and nationally, in order to increase the awareness of, and to prepare for climate change impacts in coastal areas of the Baltic Sea.

  • 2015. Lars Lindström, Maricela de la Torre-Castro. Interactive Governance for Small-Scale Fisheries, 671-686

    This chapter highlights some governance challenges in small-scale fisheries in the East African region using the case of Chwaka Bay, Zanzibar, Tanzania. In this case, self-governance processes involve strong normative and cultural-cognitive aspects that have underpinned de facto management actions and blocked other options towards sustainability. The conflict level between the villages in the Bay is very high and there is a need to address how the system may move from self-governance and conflict to co-governance and cooperation. The chapter focuses on the governance interactions between the state and the fishing villages as well as the state’s failed attempts to break unsustainable self-governance. It identifies the role that the state has played to promote co-management and participation, as well as highlights changing legislation and conservation in the area. What went wrong with these strategies and why? Who and with what method does the capacity for dynamic, interactive governance develop? Who co-ordinates interactions across different identities, interests, and different spatio-temporal scales, and how? Who establishes a common world view for action, and how? Which institution functions as a court of appeal for disputes arising within and over interactive governance?

  • 2014. Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Giuseppe Di Carlo, Narriman S. Jiddawi. Marine Pollution Bulletin 83 (2), 398-407

    Small-scale fisheries (SSF) in tropical seascapes (mosaics of interconnected mangroves, seagrasses and corals) are crucial for food and income. However, management is directed mostly to corals and mangroves. This research analyzes the importance of seagrasses compared to adjacent ecosystems in Chwaka Bay, Zanzibar, Tanzania. Using fish landings; the study investigated: location of fishing effort, fish production (biomass and species), and monetary benefits (aggregated value and per capita income). Seagrasses were the most visited grounds providing highest community benefits. Per capita benefits were equivalent to those from corals and mangroves. All three habitats provided income just above extreme poverty levels; however catches from seagrass appeared more stable. Seagrass are key ecosystems supporting SSF and protection and management are urgently needed. Adoption of a seascape approach considering all ecosystems underpinning SSF and the social aspects of fishing and a shift in emphasis from pure conservation to sustainable resource management would be desirable.

  • 2013. Sara Fröcklin (et al.). Ambio 42 (8), 951-962

    This paper fills an important gap towards adaptive management of small-scale fisheries by analyzing the gender dimension of fish trade in Zanzibar, Tanzania. We hypothesize that gender-based differences are present in the fish value chain and to test the hypothesis interviews were performed to analyze: (i) markets, customers, and mobility, (ii) material and economic resources, (iii) traded fish species, (iv) contacts and organizations, and (v) perceptions and experiences. Additionally, management documents were analyzed to examine the degree to which gender is considered. Results show that women traders had less access to social and economic resources, profitable markets, and high-value fish, which resulted in lower income. These gender inequalities are linked, among others, to women’s reproductive roles such as childcare and household responsibilities. Formal fisheries management was found to be gender insensitive, showing how a crucial feedback element of adaptive management is missing in Zanzibar’s management system, i.e., knowledge about key actors, their needs and challenges.

  • 2012. Maricela de la Torre-Castro. Coastal Management 40 (6), 612-633

    The last decade has seen a shift in the Natural Resource Management discourse, a shift from management to governance. Governance is held forward as a prime solution to problems associated with the sustainability of natural resources, including fisheries and other marine resources. Several countries in the Western Indian Ocean are framing governance solutions as a response to coastal/marine resource depletion and environmental degradation, but the challenges are huge and success stories remain few. This study provides an analysis of the governance situation in Chwaka Bay, Zanzibar, Tanzania. It presents the governance actors and how governance is expressed in terms of hierarchy (state), heterarchy (self-organized networks of resource users), and anarchy (market). The analysis illustrates the extreme difficulties of using governance approaches to steer human behavior to solve environmental problems and achieve sustainability. The study also provides some insights when considering the use of governance as a tool for the designing and/or steering social-ecological systems in subsistence contexts with weak formal institutions. These include the consideration of governance as an intrinsic part of complex societal processes, the idealization of governance as a template for redressing management failure and broader issues such as the importance of meta-governance.

  • 2012. Hampus Eriksson, Maricela de la Torre-Castro, Per Olsson. PLoS ONE 7 (4), e35504

    Background: Scuba diving fishing, predominantly targeting sea cucumbers, has been documented to occur in an uncontrolled manner in the Western Indian Ocean and in other tropical regions. Although this type of fishing generally indicates a destructive activity, little attention has been directed towards this category of fishery, a major knowledge gap and barrier to management. 

    Methodology and Principal Findings: With the aim to capture geographic scales, fishing processes and social aspects the scuba diving fishery that operate out of Zanzibar was studied using interviews, discussions, participant observations and catch monitoring. The diving fishery was resilient to resource declines and had expanded to new species, new depths and new fishing grounds, sometimes operating approximately 250 km away from Zanzibar at depths down to 50 meters, as a result of depleted easy-access stock. The diving operations were embedded in a regional and global trade network, and its actors operated in a roving manner on multiple spatial levels, taking advantage of unfair patron-client relationships and of the insufficient management in Zanzibar. Conclusions and

    Significance: This study illustrates that roving dynamics in fisheries, which have been predominantly addressed on a global scale, also take place at a considerably smaller spatial scale. Importantly, while proposed management of the sea cucumber fishery is often generic to a simplified fishery situation, this study illustrates a multifaceted fishery with diverse management requirements. The documented spatial scales and processes in the scuba diving fishery emphasize the need for increased regional governance partnerships to implement management that fit the spatial scales and processes of the operation. 

Visa alla publikationer av Maricela De la Torre Castro vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 20 maj 2020

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