Does capacity building make resource-dependent communities more adaptive?
In Chile, artisanal fishing communities are currently undermined by two key stressors: poaching and market forces. Forty-two of them were surveyed to explore whether generic elements of adaptive capacity like assets, flexibility and agency were effective at bolstering other stressor-specific capacities such as the availability of multiple fishing gears to adapt catch to ever changing species values (for market forces) and high surveillance efforts to apprehend offenders (for poaching). A significant positive correlation was found, meaning that fishing communities with high 'generic' adaptive capacity also developed strong 'specific' adaptive capacity. However, communities with strong adaptive capacities -'generic' and 'specific'- did not necessarily adapt successfully: they often failed to effectively reduce their exposure to the impacts of poaching and markets. This suggested that barriers may be preventing fishers to mobilize their capacity into action. This paper argues that, while focusing policy on building 'generic' and 'specific' capacity is an important first step, it may not always be sufficient to effectively improve fishers' situations.