'One Hand Can't Clap': Combining Scientific and Local Knowledge for Improved Caribbean Fisheries Management

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2004

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"Migratory marine resources pose a challenge to common property theory. A given fish stock (e.g. a tuna species) may be used by coastal and offshore fisheries, by small and large-scale harvesters, and more than one nation. The movement of the stock makes it difficult to develop shared values and mutually agreeable rules among the users who can monitor one anothers behaviour and impose sanctions. Migratory resources pose cross-boundary issues. It may be necessary to have commercial fishery quotas enforced by government authorities, as community-based solutions would not be effective. In the case of resources fished by several nation states, international institutions are needed. Such resources pose cooperation and enforcement problems that cannot be solved at the local or national levels. "A case in point is the migratory pelagic fish caught by the fishers of Gouyave, Grenada, West Indies. The International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) reported that Atlantic Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans), Atlantic White Marlin (apturus albidus), and Atlantic Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) fish stocks are overexploited. The ICCAT adopted management measures to rebuild these stocks, which requires countries throughout the region to reduce landing levels to those in 1996. Stock assessments and management strategies were based solely on scientific assessment. "The new regulations impact livelihoods in the fishing community of Gouyave. Fishers, stakeholders, and community members disagree with the proposed plan to reduce landings of these species. Based on their local knowledge and technological experimentation, they argue they have information to contribute to the assessment of the status of the pelagic fishery that would be important for management planning. They argue that the government should take a more holistic approach to managing large pelagic species, and that ICCATs objective of rebuilding stocks cannot be achieved without causing much economic hardship on the community. Stakeholders note that to ensure sustainability of the fishery and the community, management strategies could include: (1) maintaining economic viability of the fishery; (2) monitoring the bait fishery; (3) maintaining proper quality control to ensure fish export; and (4) considering alternative livelihood options. "Much could be done to improve Caribbean fisheries planning and decision-making by creating opportunities for management that are participatory and cross-scale. In our case study, there are three levels of management: community (Gouvaye), the nation state (Grenada) and regional/international (ICCAT). While the national and regional levels are well coordinated, the community level of management, and the knowledge held by fishers, is rarely taken into account. Decision-making can be improved by creating a platform that facilitates adaptive learning, and sharing of scientific and local knowledge amongst the stakeholders. This grounded platform needs to be created first at the national level through participatory processes, and then used as a means to inform decisions at regional and international levels."

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IASC, common pool resources, fisheries--case studies, transboundary resources, local knowledge, livelihoods, participatory management

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