Polycentricity, a complex form of governance characterized by multiple centers of semiautonomous decision‐making, has been embraced by commons scholars for the governance of complex natural resource systems. In this context, several benefits are commonly ascribed to polycentric governance systems, including enhanced adaptive capacity, mitigation of risk and provision of good institutional fit. We examine the functioning of a polycentric governance system through a qualitative case study of the governance of small‐scale fishing in the Northern Reef region of Palau where fishery resources have been declining in recent decades. By engaging a theoretical model of a functional polycentric governance system, we identify deficiencies in institutional features that partly explain why functionality is not fully achieved. Analysis of the historical transition of the governance system from community‐based to polycentric reveals that the path to polycentricity and contextual conditions constitute additional distal explanations of deficiencies in functionality. The findings suggest that transitioning from community‐based to polycentric governance risks producing conditions conducive to crowding‐out and erosion of rule compliance where the form of polycentricity assumed entails primarily higher‐level government decision‐makers with insufficient capacity for rule implementation. The case underlines the need for more refined theory concerning the emergence and functionality of different forms polycentric governance systems in various contexts.
Over the last four decades in the Philippines, a range of management tools such as marine protected area (MPA) establishment and coastal resources management (CRM) that includes localized species-specific management, marine habitat rehabilitation, and organizing communities for increased participation in planning and decision-making have led to improvements of marine habitats and fish stocks in areas where such tools were applied. In spite of these management advances, fishers particularly in the municipal fisheries sector continue to observe declines in either the quantity or quality of their catch, and attribute this not only to the continued use of highly efficient and ecologically destructive fishing gears, but also, the unregulated numbers of fishers and gears within municipal waters. Recognizing this as a pivotal challenge, the USAID-funded Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) Project developed a process for the right-sizing of fishing effort as a potential application of the ecosystems approach to fisheries management(EAFM) to directly address the issue of unregulated fishing effort in Philippine municipal fisheries. The objective is to determine via a participatory process a configuration of fishing effort that can be sustainably supported by the ecosystem, and at the same time, can provide adequate fish catches to support the livelihood needs of fishers in a defined marine key biodiversity area (MKBA). The ecosystem and livelihood tradeoffs are investigated using the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) modeling and simulation tool. The entire process adopts a multi-stakeholder set-up that featured highly participatory learning activities, consensus-building negotiations between local government units (LGUs), and science-based decision-making workshops. All in all, it consists of strategically tailored yet adaptive sessions to effectively engage stakeholders in understanding the concept of fishing effort right-sizing, to acquaint participants with the basic biological and ecological principles governing the fisheries, and subsequently, to raise the participants' confidence in the decision-making and negotiation processes. The consensus-based MKBA-wide fishing effort targets considered both the system-scale and the diverse localized management priority objectives of the different user representatives. Across the 8 ECOFISH MKBAs, improving equity in the access of fisheries resource benefits emerged as a principal priority objective. Improving the ecosystem structure as evidenced by large, predatory fishes and minimizing fisher displacement outweighed maximizing catch and incomes as overriding priorities in the decision-making. The project envisions that the consensus-based fishing effort allocation will ultimately serve as basis for the regulated issuance of fisheries licenses by the respective LGUs and for the right-sizing process to serve as a model for determining fishing effort allocation options in other municipal fisheries systems in the country.
The aquaculture sector is anticipated to be a keystone in food production systems in the coming decades. However, it is associated with potentially important environmental damages caused by its contribution to eutrophication or climate change, for example. To comprehensively quantify those impacts, life cycle assessment (LCA) studies have been conducted on several seafood farming systems for the past 15 years. But, what major findings and common trends can we draw from this pool of studies? What can we learn to provide recommendations to decision and policymakers in the aquaculture sector? To address these questions, we performed a critical review of 65 LCA studies of aquaculture systems from the open literature. We conducted quantitative analyses to explore which impacts can be identified as dominating and to compare different types of aquaculture systems. Our results evidenced that the feed production is a key driver for climate change, acidification, cumulative energy use and net primary production use, while the farming process is a key driver for eutrophication. We also found that different aquaculture systems and technology components may exert considerably different environmental impacts. Based on identified patterns and comparisons, we therefore provided specific recommendations to aquaculture stakeholders for future policy and system development. Overall, the analysis of existing studies demonstrates that important insights can be gained by applying LCA to aquaculture systems, and, to move towards an environmentally sustainable aquaculture sector, we recommend its systematic use in the design of new aquaculture systems or policies, and/or in the evaluation and optimization of existing ones.
This viewpoint emphasizes gendered perspectives and reflects on gender roles for sustainability-focused governance. It argues that when considering gender in this context, not only equity, or power-plays between genders are at stake; in addition, for effective ocean governance, an irreducible contribution of female voices is necessary. Some key contributions of women in the field of ocean governance-related research are described as examples. If women, for instance, are not included in fisheries management, we miss the complete picture of social-ecological linkages of marine ecosystems. Overall, women are often regarded as major actors driving sustainable development because of their inclusiveness and collaborative roles. Similarly, women have advocated for the common good in marine conservation, raising important (and often neglected) concerns. In maritime industries, women enlarge the talent pool for innovation and smart growth. Besides the manifold possibilities for promoting the involvement of women in ocean governance and policy-making, this viewpoint highlights how gendered biases still influence our interactions with the ocean. It is necessary to reduce the structural, and systemically-embedded hurdles that continue to lead to gendered decision-taking with regard to the ocean.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has experienced vigorous growth on the international scale in recent years, and several practices has emerged from different countries. The demand for specific training in the preparation and implementation of marine planning has therefore already shown itself to be quite relevant on a global scale. Educational initiatives related to MSP have to respond to the increased complexity of MSP, which integrates environmental and economic perspectives on marine resources and maritime sectors, considering governance framework as well as maritime affairs and legislation.
This paper aims at addressing the educational and training needs for the development of both academic education and professional training in MSP. Learning skills, contents and methods of an ‘ideal’ MSP course are depicted from widely accepted operative guides on MSP and from the EU Framework Directive on MSP (2014/89/EU). They are considered for the analysis of the current educational offer around MSP, performed in a sample of countries that have already undergone a process of implementation of MSP by Law. As result, beside the great variety of courses, it emerges that MSP education seems to be often regarded from an environmental perspective – in continuity with Integrated Coastal Management education – while planning theory and experiences in MSP are the least represented contents. Results are discussed in relation to three major challenges: i) how educational offer reflects on transdisciplinarity, ii) the role of theory in MSP courses, and iii) the enforceability of Plans as major concern in MSP.