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The Emergence of Common Property Regimes in Amazonian Fisheries

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Pereira, Henrique
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1265
Sector: Fisheries
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
rational choice theory
institutional design
institutional analysis
Abstract: "Natural resource management issues are one of the world's top concerns today and the involvement of local level institutions is of great importance for efficiently conserving natural resources. Recent drastic socioeconomic transformations underway in the Amazon region have affected local populations and have altered patterns of resource exploitation, notably in the commercial fishery sector. Unlike fisheries elsewhere, the intensification of commercial fishing in the Amazon has not yet led to the breakdown of subsistence fisheries. Since the 1970s, several Amazonian peasant communities have demanded political and legal support for their management practices and property rights. Sixty-two riverine communities of the Brazilian Amazon basin and their accomplishments in managing collective owned fisheries were studied from September 1997 to June 1999. Data on community organization and household economic strategy were collected in loco by means of discussion groups, structured interviews, mapping and participant observation. Each community's Common Property Regime (CPR) was classified and analyzed according to a combination of ecological and institutional economics theories. As predicted, territorial defense should increase with higher external competition for local resources and restrictions to individual level of appropriation should increase if resources become scarcer relative to internal consumption pressure. Complemented by the household's microeconomic perspective, these two sets of 'environmental' factors seem to explain the arrangement of operationalization rules observed in each community. As expected, open-access regimes (CPR I) were found at situations where perceived resource scarcity is at its highest and competition pressure at its lowest level. Fully developed management schemes (CPR III) were found at situations where fish resources were moderately abundant and internal competition more intense. Households' economic structure and opportunities (age structure, land tenure, and source of income) are shown to be correlated to households' decisions with respect to adherence or not to the community's management scheme. The potential conserving aim of each type of CPR are highlighted and discussed. Suggestions are made on how the local society could move towards a model of fisheries co-management where public policies are designed to encourage partnerships, local incentives for sustainable use and sharing of power and responsibility for resources management and conservation."

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