Impact of Co-Management Agreements on the Exploitation and Productivity of Floodplain Lake Fisheries in the Lower Amazon

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"Community initiatives to regulate the exploitation of lake fisheries have proliferated in the lower Amazon, and may now be legalised as co-management agreements whereby the government endorses and enforces community rules. Most agreements aim to raise stock abundance and thereby the productivity of lake fisheries by limiting exploitation by larger, often external commercial boats as well as by local fishers. This study evaluates the perceived and actual impact of co-management agreements on fisheries exploitation and productivity by comparing lake fisheries within and outside agreements. A survey was conducted in 18 paired communities with and without co-management agreements (i.e. 9 pairs of a co-managed and non-managed fishery each). Rules in comanaged fisheries typically comprised restrictions on the use of gill nets, daily catch limits and limits on the size of boats. A total of 259 households (13 or 18 per community) were surveyed to estimate local fishing effort and catch. Non-managed fisheries were subject to additional fishing by external commercial boats which could not be quantified independently, but has been accounted for in the analysis. Results showed a reasonable degree of perceived and actual compliance within the communities with comanagement agreements. The productivity (catch per unit of effort) of managed fisheries was significantly higher, by about 60%, than that of non-managed fisheries even though no significant difference in household fishing effort was detected. An empirical model relating fishing effort and yield per unit area was derived for a sub-set of lakes (both managed and non-managed) where lake area could be clearly delineated and fishing was carried out predominantly by communities covered in the survey (i.e. excluding lakes shared by several communities). Fishing effort explained much of the variation in yield between lakes. Managed lakes showed significantly higher levels of yield and productivity (by about 70%) than non-managed lakes for the same level of fishing effort. This difference is likely to reflect the additional, non-quantified fishing effort and catch by external commercial boats in non-managed lakes. We conclude that the comanagement agreements have brought significant yield and productivity benefits to the communities implementing them, largely as a result of reduced commercial fishing by outsiders. The yield predictive model derived in this study provides a quantitative tool for assessing effects of effort regulation within co-management fisheries."



IASC, common pool resources, co-management, fisheries, lakes, productivity--models, Amazon River region, regulation