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Commonisation and Decommonisation: Understanding the Processes of Change in the Chilika Lagoon, India

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Nayak, Prateep Kumar; Berkes, Fikret
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 9
Page(s): 132-145
Date: 2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/7825
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): commons
property rights
access
fisheries
aquaculture
prawn
Abstract: "This article examines the processes of change in a large lagoon system, and its implications for how commons can be managed as commons in the long run. We use two related concepts in our analysis of change: commonisation and decommonisation; 'commonisation' is understood as a process through which a resource gets converted into a jointly used resource under commons institutions that deal with excludability and subtractability, and 'decommonisation' refers to a process through which a jointly used resource under commons institutions loses these essential characteristics. We analyse various contributing issues and dynamics associated with the processes of commonisation and decommonisation. We consider evidence collected through household and village level surveys, combined with a host of qualitative and quantitative research methods in the Chilika Lagoon, the largest lagoon in India, and one of the largest lagoons in Asia. We suggest that in order to keep the Chilika commons as commons will require, as a starting point, a policy environment in which legal rights and customary livelihoods are respected. With international prawn markets stabilised and the 'pink gold rush' over, the timing may be good for a policy change in order to create a political space for negotiation and to reverse the processes causing decommonisation. Fishers need to be empowered to re-connect to their environment and re-invent traditions of stewardship, without which there will be no resources left to fight over."

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