Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

The effectiveness of community-based organizations in managing coastal resources in the Western Indian Ocean

Lead Institution: James Cook University (JCU)
Project Country:
Investigators: Joshua E. Cinner
Project Summary:

Fisheries and coastal resources offer a unique opportunity and challenge for the development of co-management due, in part, to the independent nature of the resource users and the dynamic nature of aquatic resources. Co-management should be viewed not as a single strategy to solve all problems of fisheries and coastal resources management, but rather as a process of resource management; maturing, adjusting and adapting to changing conditions over time. Thus, the co-management process is inherently adaptive, relying on systematic learning and the progressive accumulation of knowledge for improved resource management (Pomeroy & Rivera-Guieb 2006).
Over the last two decades, research and case studies undertaken at different locations around the world have documented many cases, both successful and unsuccessful, of co-management in fisheries and other coastal resources (Berkes et al. 1996; DeCosse & Jayawickrama 1998; Hoefnagel & Smit 1996; Jentoft & Kristofferson 1989; Normann et al. 1998; White et al. 1994). From the results of this research, key conditions are emerging which are central to developing and sustaining successful co-management arrangements (Pinkerton 1989, 1993, 1994). The list is long and varied, and is continually growing as new insights emerge from both theoretical and empirical research. It should be noted that these conditions are not absolute or complete. There can be successful co-management without having met all of the conditions. However, consensus is growing that the more of these conditions that are satisfied in a particular situation, the greater the chances for successful implementation of co-management.
The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss key conditions for the successful implementation of fisheries and coastal co-management identified in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the wider Caribbean. These four regions were selected as several recent research and development projects have produced outputs in which key conditions have been identified. The conditions are reported on a regional basis not for a specific country as this is how the authors have presented their results. It is expected that specific conditions would differ by country. These conditions will embrace the wide range of aspects that can affect the implementation and performance of co-management and activities from resources and fisheries, to cultural and institutional dimensions. The paper will conclude with a discussion of policy implications for fisheries and coastal co-management.

What were the problems the project intended to address?:

Despite the critical economic importance of coral reefs to coastal communities in Australia and throughout the world (Moberg & Folke 1999), few studies have quantitatively examined relationships between design principles, socioeconomic conditions, and the success of the co-management institutions increasingly used to govern coral reefs (McClanahan et al. 2006; Pollnac et al. 2001). Many of the studies relevant to co-managing coral reefs have either been case studies or comparative studies confined to relatively small geographical areas (Russ & Alcala 1999). There has been little systematic effort to understand how both design principles and socioeconomic factors identified in case studies influence the success of co-management over broader spatial or social scales (Cinner et al. 2005; Pollnac et al. 2001; but see Sen & Nielsen 1996). Comparative studies can help us better understand these relationships by revealing broader patterns, such as whether there are thresholds of factors like population or poverty beyond which certain co-management arrangements become untenable. The aim of this project was to broaden our understanding of how socioeconomic conditions and design principles are related to the success (or failure) of co-managing coral reef resources over a broad geographic context.

Project Objectives:

1. Review the extent to which coral reef co-management has been evaluated.
2. Examine the design structure, legislative context, and socioeconomic conditions under which co-management systems operate.
3. Quantify the effectiveness of co-management systems;
4. Identify the specific socioeconomic factors and institutional design principles that are related aspects of co-management success;
5. Provide recommendations for activities that will improve the effectiveness of co-management and disseminate these to relevant institutions and communities.

Study Sites:

1. Pollnac, R, P Christie, JE Cinner, T Dalton, TM Daw, GE Forrester, NAJ Graham, TR McClanahan (2010). Marine reserves as linked social-ecological systems. Invited article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 107(43): 18262-18265
2. Pomeroy, R , J Cinner and J Raakjaer Nielsen. (2011) Conditions for Successful Fisheries and Coastal Resources Co-management: Lessons Learned in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the wider Caribbean. In Cutts, R (ed.) Small scale fisheries management: Frameworks and approaches for the developing world, CABI Publishing, pp. 256
3. Wamukota, A., JE Cinner, TR McClanahan (accepted). Co-management of coral reef fisheries: A critical evaluation of the literature. Marine Policy.