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Alternate household livelihood strategies for people living on islands often involve job diversification into tourism, government, fisheries, and agriculture. Using an agent-based model, changes in employment in the fishing industry are examined by assessing household characteristics, growth of tourism, and changes in the adaptive behavior of individuals relative to endogenous factors and exogenous shocks to the employment system.


  • What demographic characteristics at the household and individual levels are most related to the ability of fishers to change employment patterns from fisheries to tourism? 
  • Why do some fishers transition to other employment opportunities, while others retain fishing as their primary job even in the face of financial uncertainty?


Steve Walsh, Kim Engie, Phil Page, and Brian Frizzelle

Contemporary fisheries in the Galapagos are the product of the legacy of overfishing, when the lobster and sea cucumber fisheries were severely crippled through overexploitation. Associated with the degradation of the fisheries industry in the Galapagos, tourism has expanded considerably, thereby creating economic opportunities for individuals, households, and communities. Our Agent-Based Model (ABM) considers strategies of household livelihood alternatives in the Galapagos with the central proposition that fishers are being “pushed” and “pulled” into the tourism industry, but not all fishers are able to obtain alternate employment nor do all want to transition to full or part-time employment in non-fishing activities. The processes embedded in the model examine fisheries as a social–ecological system, where livelihood transitions are modeled, and the multi-dimensional drivers of change are explored.

The Galapagos Fishers ABM (GF-ABM) simulates the decision-making processes of Fishers (Fisher agents) with regards to employment choices and an alternate household livelihood strategy that would move those most qualified into tourism, given a variety of circumstances, desires, and personal characteristics. The GF-ABM contains a demographic element that models basic changes at the Household level (Household agents). The model also contains an employment management component in which Fisher agents select jobs among three general employment sectors—fisheries, tourism, and government. The tourism and government sectors each have three tiers of jobs that require increasing agent skills. Fishers make their employment decisions based on their preference to remain in fishing, availability of jobs in the three employment sectors, and their personal/professional qualifications that facilitate their movement among the employment sectors. Households contain members that are non- Fisher agents, and Fishers belong to households. Income and expenses are calculated for Fishers and Household agents. The capitalized terms below highlight selected model components. There are eight parameters related to demographic change.


Structural design and key elements of the Galapagos Fishers agent-based model (GF-ABM).


This project is funded by the NASA Land Use/Land Cover Change Program.