Governance and decentralization reforms in small-scale fisheries: an African perspective

Relying on a framework that highlights different dimensions of ‘decentralization’, this paper reviews fisheries co-management programmes as they have been implemented over the last 20 years in sub-Saharan Africa. It shows that in most cases, fisheries co-management programmes failed to improve governance, but simply altered the distribution of power and responsibility amongst the different stakeholders. In this new context, the co-management programmes were implemented often at the detriment of the direct endusers (fisherfolk) who benefit from those reforms only in a limited number of cases. Challenging the current narrative that presents participation as the central condition for governance reforms, the review instead highlights the importance of downward accountability. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations.


Béné, C. (2009)
p. 253-266. In: Wramner P., M. Cullberg and H. Ackefors (eds.) Fisheries, sustainability and development. Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Stockholm. [open access]