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Malawi's Lake Chiuta Fisheries: Intelligent Burden Shedding that Favors Renewable Resources Stewardship

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Thomson, James T.
Conference: Vincent Ostrom: The Quest to Understand Human Affairs
Location: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: May 31-June 3, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5235
Sector: Fisheries
Region: Africa
Subject(s): fisheries
Abstract: "This paper on fisheries governance and management in Malawi's Rift Valley Lake Chiuta highlights three key points: (1) the utility of formal special district arrangements in supporting local-level initiatives to introduce order into the exploitation of a large-lake fishery and to ensure its sustainable use; (2) the power of a very simple recordkeeping system of fisheries trouble cases in demonstrating the fundamental commitment to rule of law principles and practices among fishers who have never benefited from donor- or government-financed ROL technical assistance; and (3) the striking advantages that both fishers and the Government of Malawi derive from intelligent burden shedding in this fisheries case. "The paper begins with a description of the technical, community and government factors that gave rise to special district management of the Lake Chiuta fisheries. It then describes how rules governing access to and harvesting of the Chiuta fishery were elaborated, monitored and enforced. It demonstrates once again that committed users can in fact under particular circumstances not just formulate rules governing access and use of renewable natural resources but also shoulder the burdens of monitoring compliance with those rules, enforce them in cases of infraction, and take measures to resolve the inevitable disputes that arise in some trouble cases. The success of this experiment, identified and astutely supported by the Government of Malawi, points the way to significant savings in public expenditures and arguably, much more promising outcomes in governance and management of renewable resources. "This case is extracted from a broader study of formal and non-formal special districts found in four widely-separated countries in Africa."

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