The fishery of the Fante town Moree in Ghana and its network of migrants in West Africa is here understood as a social field, whose institutions are key to an understanding of fisher people's livelihood strategies. By following rules and norms for behaviour that to a large degree are shared in both home community and migration community - institutionalised in the chief system, in the fishermen and traders' leader institutions, through asafo companies, and through kinship and marriage practices - migrants are able to participate in social and political arenas where access to resources is negotiated. At the same time they constantly shape the institutions through negotiation of practices in new contexts. The institutions also function as important "buffers" in the potentially uneasy relationship between migrants and host communities. It is argued that the outcome of a spatially extensive but institutionally efficient migratory production system such as the Fante fisheries, is an extremely flexible utilisation of resources, which is well adapted to the West African ecological, economic and political environment. Furthermore, it is suggested that because of this flexibility, Ghanaian canoe fisheries is both socially and ecologically a particularly resilient system. This explains its ability to adapt to and absorb resource fluctuations, population increase, and economic and political shocks in the region.