Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name



Computer Science

First Advisor

Robert G. Reynolds


Recently it has been found that the earth’s oceans are warming at a pace that is 40% faster than predicted by a United Nations panel a few years ago. As a result, 2019 has become the warmest year on record for the earth’s oceans. That is because the oceans have acted as a buffer by absorbing 93% of the heat produced by the greenhouse gases [40].

The impact of the oceanic warming has already been felt in terms of the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean as an effect of the ENSO process. The ENSO process is a cycle of warming and subsequent cooling of the Pacific Ocean that can last over a period of years. This cycle was first documented by Peruvian fishermen in the early 1600’s. So it has been part of the environmental challenges that have been presented to economic agents throughout the world since then. It has even been suggested that the cycle has increased in frequency over the years, perhaps in response to the overall issues related to global warming.

Although the onset of the ENSO cycle might be viewed as disruption of the fishing economy in a given area, there is some possibility that over time agents have been able to develop strategic responses to these changes to as to reduce the economic risk associated with them. During that time the Cerro Azul, Peru was in the process of emerging from one of the largest ENSOs on record. This was perceived to be a great opportunity to see how the collective bodies of fishermen were able to alter their fishing strategies to deal with these more uncertain times.

Our results suggest that indeed the collective economic response of the fishermen demonstrates an ability to respond to the unpredictabilities of climate change, but at a cost. It is clear that the fishermen have gained the collective knowledge over the years to produce a coordinated response that can be observed at a higher level. Of course, this knowledge can be used to coordinate activities only if it is communicated socially within the society. Although our data does not provide any explicit information about such communication there is some indirect evidence that the adjustments in strategy are brought about by the increased exchange of experiences among the fishermen.