Field Experiment


During January 2018, I worked in the field, conducting economics experiment in coalition formation. The group was composed of me, Prof. Carlos Chavez (University of Talca, Chile), and other seven assistants from different Chilean universities.

The fieldwork covered the Maule, Biobio and Los Lagos region of Chile, and we worked with fishers communities holding TURFs.  Two hundred fifty-eight fishermen did participate from 18 communities.  Prof. Carlos Chavez is the PI, while Prof. John Stranlund (University of Massachusetts - Amherst) and Prof. Jim Murphy (University of Alaska - Anchorage) are the other two principal researchers.

Please continue reading to know more details about our experience!

Maule Region (12 - 14 of January, 2018)

We conducted our first round of experiments on the coast of the Maule region. We started on January 12th, and the first stop was Duao, a coastal town located to the west of Curico. This scenic cove, and surprisingly for me, a beautiful tourist place for getting tan, received us with a cloudy sky and comfortable weather (around 20°C) to start our work. 

The plan was to run the experiment with 18 fishers during the first day. We finally achieved to reunite 12 fishers, 5% of our final goal. The session was conducted in Illoca. 

The second day was better. We head from Duao to Constitucion - A bigger coastal town than Duao or Illoca. From there, we traveled to Pellines and Putú. We reunited 30 fishers in both locations together. The weather was more agreeable than the first day - a bit colder, but the sun shined us for the whole day. We visited a cool Irish Bar near downtown (which is weird in Chile, make me feel like in New England).

Moreover, while we were hanging out between sessions, we had the opportunity to see how fishers put a boat in the ocean. I had never seen that before. It was interesting, so I made sure to record it in a video (see it below!). 

During the last day in this region (dia 3), we returned to Putú to run another session. 6 people conformed the session. After the last experiment in this region, my final impression is that fishers are cooperative, probably because our visited communities were relatively small.  The next stop was the Biobio region! (see the following entry to know what happened with that area!)

Biobio Region (15 - 18 of January, 2018)

We arrived in Concepcion during the night of January 14th. Concepcion is the Biobio region's capital, and it is where I lived almost my entire life (thus, I have some bias to say that it is the best city in Chile!). The first day of activities in this region was crazy. We run four sessions of 12 participants in Coliumo and Cerro Verde in one day! That was amazing to achieve our goal. I always enjoy the landscape in Coliumo. The cove is in a peninsula, and artisanal boats are all concentrated on the coast (see the pictures!). We also did some tourism and visited Dichato at lunch. I had some childhood memories in that place. I used to go there for a month during summer break. The town was reconstructed after the tsunami in 2010 and now looks quite different from when I was a kid. Between sessions, we found a nice spot in the middle of the road between Coliumo and Cerro Verde. From that point, we were able to observe the whole Concepción Bay!

During the second day, we went to Lota Bajo and Caleta Maule. The fishermen union in Lota Bajo was next to the Navy (such help they have to monitor their area), something rare in this sector. In Caleta Maule, we had some free time before the session started. That was an excellent opportunity to go to the beach and reduce our stress. We found some starfishes on the coast, floating at the rate of the waves. I thought that kind of animal lives in the tropic! On that beach, we also saw a signal which indicates that "Shellfish extraction is not allowed. Management area." I wonder if they can enforce it without any trouble. 

On the 17th, we began our day in the Peninsula of Hualpen, and then we traveled to Arauco. In our first destination, we covered Chome and Perone coves. Chome is well known because a whaling factory began operating at the end of the 19th century. The factory was closed in the '50s, and now we can observe the ruins of it. After running two successful sessions, we traveled an hour and a half to Arauco, where we run a session right there, and later in Llico. We saw a wind farm on the road to Llico. I'm not sure, but I think it was built two years ago.  

Our last day of the experiment in the Biobio region was on the 18th. During the first half of the day, we worked in Tubul, and then we came back to Concepción to spent the night. We finally ended with 198 observations in total after our effort in both Maule and Biobio regions. See the next entry to know what happened during our stay in the Los Lagos Region!

Los Lagos Region (20 - 22 of January, 2018)

On the 19th, we traveled from Concepción to Puerto Montt. The bus took 9 hours to arrive!!! (I used my time to work, update the blog, and catch up with some weird David Lynch's films). The goal in this region was to work with 60 fishers in three days. 

During the first day, we ran experiments in Caleta Amortajado and Maullin. Both caletas are placed next to Maullin river, west of Puerto Montt. The primary resource that they extract is Pelillo, which is used in the pharmaceutical industry. Such a lovely place to work. The sunset was amazing. You can see some volcanoes, vessels, and cool sky colors at the same time. There was a wedding on the second floor of the union building; thus, we had to work with some music (not bad if you are sleepy). 

Between sessions, we had time to visit  Parque Pangal. It was a perfect place to have a rest after many days on the field. We finished the day visiting "El Tablon del Ancla." I had a bet with the other two members of the team. The bet was to eat the giant hamburger they serve (see the picture at the bottom of me eating the "Tablon" hamburger). It was a draw!

The next day we run experiments in Caleta La Arena and La Pasada. Caleta La Arena is where people from all parts of the world meet to start the Carretera Austral trip (still in my "to-do list"). The cove is surrounded by mountains, fog, turquoise waters, and small places to eat. We tried empanadas in the "Donde la Pola" restaurant. As their advertisement says, are the best empanadas in the south! Honorable mention to their cat, which slept during our whole time spent in the restaurant next to the stove. He didn't even wake up when tourists pet him. After that session, we travel to La Pasada, where we had to take the ferry to cross the river. One of the fishermen who participated in the experiment told me that the equilibrium solution of the game was at the end of the session! We called him "Fisherman Nash" after that. 

The final day of our adventure was on the 22nd. We had just one session in Carelmapu, which was successful in achieving our sample goal. The president of the union was quite friendly. We talked a lot with him, and he told us that 15 years ago, there were 700 fishermen unionized. Still, poaching, lower prices, and other unfavorable conditions have made this number reduced to 200. It is such a motivation for our work, but, at the same time, it is unfortunate that they haven't been successful in a productive area. At night we celebrated the end of our fieldwork in "El Fogon de Pepe"... 

I hope to come back to the field soon!!! (better if it is in Chile)