In Nigeria, like many coastal developing countries, fish is an important source of food for the population, which is currently estimated at 186 million people (World Bank 2016). A recent study estimated that Nigeria ranks third globally for the number of people dependent on coastal fisheries for food and nutrition security, and the demand for fish is growing, alongside growth in population and incomes. However, household fish consumption in Nigeria—measured at 13.3 kg/capita/year—is low compared with the world’s average of 20.3 kg/capita/year (FAO 2018).
Ecosystem services have become a dominant paradigm for understanding how people derive well-being from ecosystems. However, the framework has been critiqued for over-emphasizing the availability of services as a proxy for benefits, and thus missing the socially-stratified ways that people access ecosystem services. We aim to contribute to ecosystem services’ theoretical treatment of access by drawing on ideas from political ecology (legitimacy) and anthropology (entanglement).
Capture fisheries in small island developing states (SIDS) have the capacity to increase access to vital micronutrient-rich food to tackle malnutrition, but when fishers are restricted to nearshore habitats by limited capacity (boats, engines, fishing gear), fisheries production can be low. This is the case of coastal Timor-Leste, where some of the world’s most diverse coral reefs are juxtaposed with one of the world’s most undernourished populations.
Failure to address unsustainable global change is often attributed to failures in conventional environmental governance. Polycentric environmental governance—the popular alternative—involves many centres of authority interacting coherently for a common governance goal. Yet, longitudinal analysis reveals many polycentric systems are struggling to cope with the growing impacts, pace, and scope of social and environmental change. Analytic shortcomings are also beginning to appear, particularly in the treatment of power.
With rapidly increasing investment in water control infrastructure (WCI) and a recently ratified agriculture development strategy that promotes integrated farming of high-value products such as fish, agricultural production, already fundamental to Myanmar’s economy, will be central to driving the countries’ socioeconomic transformation. Water planners and managers have a unique opportunity to design and manage WCI to incorporate fish and, in so doing, reduce conflicts and optimise the benefits to both people and the ecosystem services upon which they depend.
Irrigated agriculture and maintaining inland capture fisheries are both essential for food and nutrition security in Myanmar. However, irrigated agriculture through water control infrastructure, such as sluices or barrages, weirs and regulators, creates physical barriers that block migration routes of important fish species.
Fisheries co-management is an increasingly globalized concept, and a cornerstone of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, adopted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization member states in 2014. Timor-Leste is a politically young country in the relatively rare position of having underexploited fisheries in some areas that can be leveraged to improve coastal livelihood outcomes and food and nutrition security.