Rural households who fail to gain a voice in decisions over the management of shared forests, pasturelands, wetlands and fisheries face heightened risks to their livelihoods, particularly as competition increases between existing and new user groups. Exclusion from decision-making increases vulnerability of rural households, making it more difficult for them to move out of poverty and thwarting broader efforts to achieve sustainable resource management. Poor rural women in particular often face institutionalized barriers to effective participation in resource management.
Lake Victoria fisheries face severe environmental stresses. Stocks are declining in a context of increasing population and growing demand for the lake’s resources. Rising competition between users is putting conservation goals and rural livelihoods at risk. While Uganda’s co-management policy framework is well-developed, key resources for implementation are lacking, enforcement is poor, and the relations between stakeholders are unequal. Poor rural resource users face significant challenges to effectively participate in fisheries decision-making.
The Java Sea is a major fishing ground in Indonesia contributing 31% of the national marine fisheries production. Demersal and small pelagic fishery resources account for most production in the area. During the 1960s and 1970s, strong demand for fish, which in Indonesia resulted from both increased human population and increased per capita fish consumption, stimulated the development of fishing in the Java Sea. This led to development of up-stream and down-stream industries, increases in employment opportunities, and increases in the number of fishers and fishing households.
Community-based management and co-management are mainstream approaches to marine conservation and sustainable resource management. In the tropical Pacific, these approaches have proliferated through the spread of locally-managed marine areas (LMMAs). LMMAs have garnered support because they can be adapted to different contexts and focus on locally identified objectives, negotiated and implemented by the people involved.
Conflict over environmental resources endangers rural people’s livelihoods and can increase the risk of broader social conflict. Yet action to sustain shared resources can also be a potent source of community building. Investing in capacities for conflict management can help launch innovations that build resilient rural livelihoods and strengthen institutions for equitable environmental governance. Governments and development agencies should invest in such capacity and integrate collaborative dialogue about environmental resources into program and policy implementation.
Cambodia’s recent freshwater fishery sector reform, instigated at the top level of government, is one of the country’s most significant contemporary policy developments addressing natural resources management and rural development. Implemented in two main waves, the reforms culminated in the complete removal of inland commercial fishing lots. Yet serious problems still need to be addressed, including reportedly widespread illegal fishing, difficulties in protecting critical habitats, and competition among state agencies over resource management authority.
The Third National Fisheries Governance Dialogue was a direct follow up on the Second National Fisheries Governance Dialogue held in Elmina in April 2012. It was agreed at the Second dialogue that co-management was the way forward for sustaining Ghana’s fisheries and that its success would depend on a supportive legal framework.
International investments in agroindustry present a growing source of tension for local populations who rely on land, forests, water and fisheries for their livelihoods, particularly where local tenure security is put at risk. For governments, civil society organizations and the communities directly affected, engaging the private sector early is critical in order to avoid an escalation of conflict and to build collaboration that can yield dividends for all. Yet care must be taken to address power differences among actors and to avoid manipulation by individuals or interest groups.
This paper is based on a global review of fisheries decentralization programs (co-management) in sub-Saharan Africa. Partly challenging the current narrative, but in line with experience in other sectors (e.g., forestry), the review shows that the outcomes of these decentralizations have not been systematically positive. In most cases, fisheries co-management failed to improve governance, but simply altered the distribution of power and responsibility amongst the different stakeholders.
In response to citizens' calls for support, the Fisheries Administration, the Culture and Environment Preservation Association (CEPA), a local NGO, and Salaphoum researchers, with technical and financial support from Wetland Alliance, have joined forces to manage deep pools in Cambodia's upper Mekong.