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      Leadership, social capital and incentives promote successful fisheries

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      Nature
      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          One billion people depend on seafood as their primary source of protein and 25% of the world's total animal protein comes from fisheries. Yet a third of fish stocks worldwide are overexploited or depleted. Using individual case studies, many have argued that community-based co-management should prevent the tragedy of the commons because cooperative management by fishers, managers and scientists often results in sustainable fisheries. However, general and multidisciplinary evaluations of co-management regimes and the conditions for social, economic and ecological success within such regimes are lacking. Here we examine 130 co-managed fisheries in a wide range of countries with different degrees of development, ecosystems, fishing sectors and type of resources. We identified strong leadership as the most important attribute contributing to success, followed by individual or community quotas, social cohesion and protected areas. Less important conditions included enforcement mechanisms, long-term management policies and life history of the resources. Fisheries were most successful when at least eight co-management attributes were present, showing a strong positive relationship between the number of these attributes and success, owing to redundancy in management regulations. Our results demonstrate the critical importance of prominent community leaders and robust social capital, combined with clear incentives through catch shares and conservation benefits derived from protected areas, for successfully managing aquatic resources and securing the livelihoods of communities depending on them. Our study offers hope that co-management, the only realistic solution for the majority of the world's fisheries, can solve many of the problems facing global fisheries.

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          Most cited references18

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          A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems.

          A major problem worldwide is the potential loss of fisheries, forests, and water resources. Understanding of the processes that lead to improvements in or deterioration of natural resources is limited, because scientific disciplines use different concepts and languages to describe and explain complex social-ecological systems (SESs). Without a common framework to organize findings, isolated knowledge does not cumulate. Until recently, accepted theory has assumed that resource users will never self-organize to maintain their resources and that governments must impose solutions. Research in multiple disciplines, however, has found that some government policies accelerate resource destruction, whereas some resource users have invested their time and energy to achieve sustainability. A general framework is used to identify 10 subsystem variables that affect the likelihood of self-organization in efforts to achieve a sustainable SES.
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            The struggle to govern the commons.

            Human institutions--ways of organizing activities--affect the resilience of the environment. Locally evolved institutional arrangements governed by stable communities and buffered from outside forces have sustained resources successfully for centuries, although they often fail when rapid change occurs. Ideal conditions for governance are increasingly rare. Critical problems, such as transboundary pollution, tropical deforestation, and climate change, are at larger scales and involve nonlocal influences. Promising strategies for addressing these problems include dialogue among interested parties, officials, and scientists; complex, redundant, and layered institutions; a mix of institutional types; and designs that facilitate experimentation, learning, and change.
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              Adaptive comanagement for building resilience in social-ecological systems.

              Ecosystems are complex adaptive systems that require flexible governance with the ability to respond to environmental feedback. We present, through examples from Sweden and Canada, the development of adaptive comanagement systems, showing how local groups self-organize, learn, and actively adapt to and shape change with social networks that connect institutions and organizations across levels and scales and that facilitate information flows. The development took place through a sequence of responses to environmental events that widened the scope of local management from a particular issue or resource to a broad set of issues related to ecosystem processes across scales and from individual actors, to group of actors to multiple-actor processes. The results suggest that the institutional and organizational landscapes should be approached as carefully as the ecological in order to clarify features that contribute to the resilience of social-ecological systems. These include the following: vision, leadership, and trust; enabling legislation that creates social space for ecosystem management; funds for responding to environmental change and for remedial action; capacity for monitoring and responding to environmental feedback; information flow through social networks; the combination of various sources of information and knowledge; and sense-making and arenas of collaborative learning for ecosystem management. We propose that the self-organizing process of adaptive comanagement development, facilitated by rules and incentives of higher levels, has the potential to expand desirable stability domains of a region and make social-ecological systems more robust to change.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                February 2011
                January 5 2011
                February 2011
                : 470
                : 7334
                : 386-389
                Article
                10.1038/nature09689
                21209616
                5b8c83c0-24bd-40b0-b5c8-53386ec74a8d
                © 2011

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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