Socio-economic studies of fisheries crime in developing countries have focused on the fishers (primarily men) and neglected the fishmongers (typically women), who are passive participants in illegal fishing. These fishmongers face lesser risks and less severe punishments than the fishermen who supply them. Socio-cultural norms frequently preclude women from fishing but may allow them to indirectly support it through, say, the provision of finance and trading in its produce. This study uses an endogenous treatment effect model to investigate the decision to trade in illegally caught fish in Ghana and the impacts of this participation on food security and household expenditure. It finds that peer pressure and misperceptions of catch trends tend to increase involvement in the illegal fish trade and that participants spend less but are more food secure. In addition, fishmongers sensitive to changes in income over a narrow income range are less likely to participate and tend to spend less per household but be more food secure. The policy implications are that providing fish traders with adequate and timely information on the state of fish stocks and social protection programs to improve their food security status may reduce their participation in the trade of illegally caught fish.
Keywords: illegal fishing, welfare, gender, Ghana