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Road development and market access on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast: implications for household fishing and farming practices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2010

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, 13 Natural Resources Building, East Lansing MI 48823, USA
James Madison College and The Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, 370 North Case Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
*Correspondence: Ms Kristen Schmitt, Northern Institute of Applied Carbon Science, Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA Tel: +1 734 730 8771 e-mail:


The simplistic portrayal of road development as a classic environment versus development debate may be because the indirect pathways connecting road building with environmental change are poorly understood. Recent road development in previously remote regions of Nicaragua provides an opportunity to investigate these pathways. This paper examines the effects of increased market access on household resource use on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. Specifically, it looks at shifting market flow and price changes for natural resources and corresponding fishing and farming decisions in communities with varying degrees of market access before and after road completion. Fisheries markets were more responsive to market access increases than agricultural markets. With increased access, fishers increasingly sold to non-local buyers, overall export of fisheries' products increased and markets for new products emerged. Prices of fisheries goods were higher with proximity to markets and availability of non-local export outlets, and prices for some were more stable after the road was completed. There were no observed changes in household fishing and farming investments during the year-long study, and therefore the environmental implications of increased market access remain uncertain. Longer-term studies and additional biological monitoring are needed to determine the full environmental consequences of market access.

EC Perspectives
Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2010

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