Co-Management in Small-Scale Fisheries: A Synthesis of Southern and West African Experiences

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"This presentation summarizes the findings from eight African countries where case studies of co-management arrangements in artisanal fisheries have been undertaken during the period 1996-97. The countries concerned are Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In most of the cases co- management represents a new approach to fisheries management. In some cases, it has only been applied within the last 3-5 years and in a few it is merely being considered as an option. The comparison of cases at this early stage gives an indication as to what appears to be the critical issues in the planning and implementation of fisheries co- management arrangements in the African context. "The incentives of fishers and other stakeholders to cooperate among themselves and with government in the management of those fisheries in which they are involved are of two types. On the one hand the level of cooperation is determined by a number of key factors relating to the local politico-historical, bio-physical, economic and socio- cultural environment of the fishing communities and the fisheries. On the other, the incentives for cooperation are determined by the character of the decision-making arrangements in place for setting collective choice rules and, in particular, the operational rules for the fishery and thus the legitimacy of the arrangement in the eyes of the fishers.... "The cases studied differ significantly as regards the political history of the countries and the character of their artisanal fisheries. Nevertheless, in all cases the co-management approach is intended to replace conventional, centralized management systems which have proved inefficient. The differing bio-physical environments seen in the cases represent three different types of ecological systems: lake/reservoir, lagoon/estuary and open coast. In most of the cases only a few fish species are target species and these are often subject to heavy fishing pressure or are already overfished. In most cases the fishers and their families are totally dependent on the fishery for their livelihood as with few exceptions, they have no alternative sources of income.... "The different types of co-management arrangements seen in these case studies are classified in accordance with the typology presented by Sen and Raakjaer Nielsen (1996). An analysis of the classification clearly indicates that, with few exceptions, co-management in the African context is government based. "African experiences of co-management differ from other regions. In Africa it is used mainly as a mechanism for conflict resolution rather than for achieving sustainability of resources. Often, in Africa, fisheries management strategy is carried out in isolation, rather than as part of an all-encompassing resource management and development framework. "The outcome of the co-management arrangements in terms of natural resource stewardship, management system resilience, equity and efficiency is discussed and some very tentative conclusions are drawn that may be relevant to co-management arrangement design and implementation elsewhere. Areas for further research are also identified."
IASC, fisheries--comparative analysis, co-management, cooperation, institutional design, resilience