A classification of poachers from the sea: four types to rule them all

Victor Hugo Martinez Ballesteros*, Pierre Failler, Ben Drakeford, Andy Forse, Gonzalo Rodriguez Rodriguez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The poaching of marine resources has been defined as the conscious breaking of fishery regulations, a situation that occurs at serious levels and high frequencies in many socio-ecological contexts around the world. Poaching as a representation of illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) impacts the management of marine resources and represents one of the main threats to the conservation of marine biodiversity, especially in in small scale fisheries (SSF). A classification of poachers is thus fundamental to defining the actors and the scale of poaching. This will contribute to the development of conservation policies that are best suited to management needs and to guiding specific actions against poaching. Proper classification of poachers has yet to be designed, hindering the development of management approaches that seek to recognise and reduce poaching. This paper provides a theoretical typology of four general types of poachers that can be applied in different contexts of fisheries resources appropriation governed by co-management systems (1. Members of Regulated Activities from the Community; 2. Members of Regulated Activities from outside the community; 3. Non-Members of Regulated Activities from the Community; 4. Non-Members of Regulated Activities from outside the community). The characteristics of the four categories of poachers were derived from analysis of the property rights at stake. This classification may help outline better compliance and enforcement strategies, including the active involvement of fisheries users and the consequent improvement of the legitimacy of fishing regulations. Additionally, we recommend a set of measures to assist in the fight against poaching associated with each of the four types of poacher.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSociety and Natural Resources
Early online date14 Dec 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 14 Dec 2023


  • poaching
  • typology
  • property rights
  • shellfish
  • non-compliance

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