Fisheries co-management policy brief: findings from a worldwide study

Fisheries in developing countries are under intense pressure from increasing human populations, overexploitation of resources and conflicts over access to degraded resources. Who should take the responsibility for managing fisheries? A new governance approach is needed to address the problems facing fishing communities. One promising approach involves an arrangement where management responsibility is shared between the goverment, fishing communities and other stakeholders. This co-management approach will address the problems facing fishing communities which include the following: 1) the risk of exclusion from resources and markets due to globalization, 2) the intense competition for the use of the freshwater and coastal environment leading to reduced resource productivity, 3) the need to reverse the overexploitation and establishment of sustainable management of the living aquatic resources on which the fishing communities rely, and 4) reconciling the immediate needs of the fishing communities with international agreements focussing on the aquatic ecosystem. Studies of various co-management implementation cases have revealed the potentials and benefits of co-management. Potentials for reducing conflicts, enhancing cooperation between communities and goverment and recognising conservation needs have been documented. Scale issues, approaches for reconciling local and global needs and identifying knowledge base for co-management and ways for effective empowerment of local communities for setting management objectives are areas that require further attention.


Viswanathan, K.K., Nielsen, J.R., Degnbol, P., Ahmed, M., Hara, M., Nik Mustapha, R.A. (2003)
WorldFish Center. Penang, Malaysia. 26 p.