The ocean provides benefits to coastal communities around the world, however, the depth and complexity of people’s interactions with marine ecosystems are not well represented in many marine management initiatives. Many fisheries are managed to maximize provisioning value, which is readily quantified, while ignoring cultural values. An ecosystem services approach that includes both provisioning and cultural services will enable managers to better account for the diverse values marine fisheries provide to coastal communities. In this study, we assess community values related to a top fished species, the Mexican chocolate clam, Megapitaria squalida, in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico. We conducted an exploratory analysis based on 42 household surveys, and found that community members perceive multiple provisioning and cultural benefits from the clam, including community economic, historical, and identity values. Despite reporting infrequent harvest and consumption of clams, participants perceive the species as an important part of community identity, highlighting the role of Mexican chocolate clams as a cultural keystone species in the Loreto region. Fisheries management that recognizes the full range of ecosystem services a species contributes to coastal communities will be better equipped to sustain these diverse values into the future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (10.1007/s13280-020-01405-w) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.