Protected areas (PAs) are a frequently used conservation strategy, yet their socioeconomic impacts on local communities remain contentious. A shift toward increased participation by local communities in PA governance seeks to deliver benefits for human well‐being and biodiversity. Although participation is considered critical to the success of PAs, few researchers have investigated individuals’ decisions to participate and what this means for how local people experience the costs and benefits of conservation. We explored who participates in PA governance associations and why; the perceived benefits and costs to participation; and how costs and benefits are distributed within and between communities. Methods included 3 focus groups, 37 interviews, and 217 questionnaire surveys conducted in 3 communities and other stakeholders (e.g., employees of a nongovernmental organization and government officials) in PA governance in Madagascar. Our study design was grounded in the theory of planned behavior (TPB), the most commonly applied behavior model in social psychology. Participation in PA governance was limited by miscommunication and lack of knowledge about who could get involved and how. Respondents perceived limited benefits and high costs and uneven distribution of these within and between communities. Men, poorer households, and people in remote villages reported the highest costs. Our findings illustrate challenges related to comanagement of PAs: understanding the heterogeneous nature of communities; ensuring all households are represented in governance participation; understanding differences in the meaning of forest protection; and targeting interventions to reach households most in need to avoid elite capture.
Community-based and Participatory Management
In the Mediterranean Sea, the dominant type of fisheries is small-scale. Coastal communities remain dependent on fisheries for their income, some of them with limited potential for economic diversification. The top-down micro-management regime has proven ineffective to secure ecological and social sustainability as it lacks flexibility and adaptation to local and regional conditions. This paper explores the advantages of using a participatory approach and a bio-economic model to develop management scenarios in a high value small-scale shrimp trap fishery in Greece. Seeking active stakeholder involvement throughout the management process advanced the identification of management measures aiming at MSY, with high levels of acceptance from stakeholders. It also increased transparency and legitimacy of the proposed management measures and could be considered as a first step towards co-management and regionalization. The participatory approach undertaken could promote compliance and facilitate the transition to sustainable fishing, ensuring the viability of coastal communities and, thus, social sustainability.
Multiple anthropogenic threats including excessive and illegal exploitations threaten marine biodiversity and sustainability across the globe. Sturgeons of the Caspian Sea are exposed to the extinction risk mainly due to the severe impacts by illegal fishing activities for caviar. Here we aimed to identify geospatial determinants contributing to illegal sturgeon fishing throughout the southern Caspian Sea, and to evaluate the role of geography, demography and awareness on fisher attitudes toward sturgeon conservation through the analysis of field- and questionnaire-based survey data from 501 fishers. Generalized additive model showed the associations between the occurrence of illegal fishing and geospatial variables indicating that illegal fishing was more concentrated on deeper and more distant fishing grounds. The map of areas under fishing pressure illustrated that fishers target a broad fishing grounds with spatial variability in targeted boundaries across the sea due to the geographic and ecological variations such as the slope of the continental shelf. By using structural equation modelling/path analysis, it was found that demographic (middle-age adults with higher literacy) and geographic variables (residence location and fishing zone) as well as awareness were positively associated with fisher attitudes toward sturgeon protection whilst conservation attitudes were less positive among illegal fishing communities. These findings improve our understanding of illegal sturgeon fishing, and given the role of fishers' behavior, awareness and attitude in the occurrence of illegal fishing, involving local communities in the decision making and enforcement processes can assist policy makers and managers in preventing this serious problem.
Multilateral consensus forged among heads of states must be value-additive and relevant at the national level to facilitate on-ground implementation. Yet, despite general optimism and advances in policy understanding, multi-scale diffusion remains a challenge with little certainty in outcomes. This study focuses on examining intermediary dynamics occurring within national policy apparatus that can influence domestic uptake of policy innovation. We analyse the anticipated spread of two supranational policies on coastal fisheries in the Pacific region – the ‘Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines’ and ‘the New Song’ – in three countries: Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Our approach combines instrumental perspectives on ‘policy coherence’ with cognitive–normative perspectives on ‘policy image’. Accordingly, we use two methods: a document-based comparison of the policies produced at different levels and interviews with national government officers in charge of policy deliberation and delivery. We find supranational-to-national policy coherence across most prescribed policy themes, except for emergent social themes such as ‘gender’ and ‘human rights–based approaches’. The views of government managers substantiate, and further augment, this finding. Crucially, managers' images (encompassing judgements, aspirations and convictions) represent personal and practical attributes involved in policy interpretation and implementation. Multi-scale policy diffusion is thus a translational process mediated by national-level staff, and managers' policy images offer nuanced and dynamic insights into why some policies are slow to take root while others take different shape to their agreed meanings. Analysts and policymakers must consider and mobilise translational approaches and policy images in order to understand and facilitate successful domestic implementation of international agreements.
The history of oyster management in the Chesapeake Bay is replete with examples of conflict, including an era commonly referred to as the Oyster Wars. Yet, the community of people who work with and depend on oysters has some shared challenges and some stories of success. Using conceptual modeling methods (fuzzy cognitive mapping in particular), we explore whether some stakeholders support and others oppose management proposals because they have fundamentally different predictions for what the outcome of the management actions or other perturbations to the system will be. Stakeholders across the oyster community completed a conceptual mapping exercise as part of the Chesapeake Oyster Summit to describe their perception of how the ecosystem (including humans) functions. This analysis takes those conceptual maps, aggregated by stakeholder group, to model their predictions under currently proposed or frequently discussed management scenarios. Results show more unity than one might expect in how the ecosystem is expected to respond to management initiatives and predicted environmental perturbations. Feedback loops also emerge in some scenarios to either buffer or exacerbate the effects of the management on the ecosystem.
The Baixo Vouga Lagunar (BVL) is part of Ria de Aveiro coastal lagoon in Portugal, which is classified as a Special Protection Area under the European Habitats and Birds Directives. This part of the system, corresponding to the confluence of the Vouga River with the lagoon, is very important culturally and socioeconomically for the local communities, taking place several human activities, especially agriculture. To prevent salt water intrusion from the Ria de Aveiro into agriculture fields, a floodbank was initiated in the 90's. In frame of ongoing changes in Ria de Aveiro hydrodynamics, the existing floodbank will be now extended, introducing further changes in the ecological dynamics of the BVL and its adjacent area. As a consequence, the water level in the floodbank downstream side is expected to rise, increasing the submersion period in tidal wetlands, and leading to coastal squeeze. The aim of this study is to apply an ecosystem based-management approach to mitigate the impacts on biodiversity resulting from the management plan. To do so, we have modelled the implications of the changes in several hydrological and environmental variables on four saltmarsh species and habitats distribution, as well as on their associated ecosystem services, both upstream and downstream of the floodbank. The ecosystem services of interest were prioritized by stakeholders' elicitation, which were then used as an input to a spatial multi-criteria analysis aimed to find the best management actions to compensate for the unintended loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the BVL. According to our results, the main areas to be preserved in the BVL were the traditional agricultural mosaic fields; the freshwater courses and the subtidal estuarine channels. By combining ecology with the analysis of social preferences, this study shows how co-developed solutions can support adaptive management and the conservation of coastal ecosystems.
This paper proposes an ‘exploratory mapping’ approach that can be employed in the early stages of a marine protected area planning process. While stakeholders' involvement in conservation has increased, it often only starts after the decision has been made about where the protected areas will be located. The lack of proper engagement with resource users raises questions about transparency and legitimacy of marine conservation initiatives, hampering their successful implementation. The proposed mapping approach offers a simple way to incorporate in the planning process what small-scale fishers consider to be important to conserve, what they value in their fishing livelihoods, and their perception about the likely impact that multiple uses of the area may cause. Conducted in a small group setting, the exploratory mapping approach is casual and conversational, using paper maps and markers to capture information and stories as they are told. The approach was tested with 14 small-scale fishers living near the Marine National Park of Currais Islands, Southern Brazil. The mapping results, based on the GIS analysis, show a high level of agreement among the study participants with respect to the ecological importance of the area under protection. The participants emphasized that, in addition to its ecological significance, the area is also important in economic and socio-cultural terms, aspects that should be considered in the planning. The study highlights how the exploratory mapping approach can provide decision makers with useful information about small-scale fishers' values and knowledge, which can help identify potential conflicts and enhance support for marine protected areas.
During the planning phase the efficacy of different strategies to manage marine resources should ultimately be assessed by their potential impact, or ability to make a difference to ecological and social outcomes. While community‐based and systematic approaches to establishing marine protected areas have their strengths and weaknesses, comparisons of their effectiveness often fail to explicitly address potential impact. Here, we predict conservation impact to compare recently implemented community‐based marine reserves in Tonga to a systematic configuration specifically aimed at maximizing impact. Boosted regression tree outputs indicated that fishing pressure accounted for ∼24% of variation in target species biomass. We estimate that the community‐based approach provides 84% of the recovery potential of the configuration with the greatest potential impact. This high potential impact results from community‐based reserves being located close to villages, where fishing pressure is greatest. These results provide strong support for community‐based marine management, with short‐term benefits likely to accrue even where there is little scope for systematic reserve design.
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.
Poverty alleviation and resource governance are inextricably related. Mainstream resource management has been typically criticized by social scientists for the inherent power imbalances between fishery managers and small-scale fishing communities. Yet, while a number of mechanisms of collective action to address these power imbalances have been developed, they remain undertheorized. This paper builds upon first-hand experience of the authors in assisting the community of Biacou to strengthen the resource management role of a local ban called Tara bandu, as well as a qualitative study conducted one year after its implementation. Our argument is fourfold. First, we suggest that in geographies where mainstream resource management cannot be implemented, strengthening custom-based institutions in hybrid mechanisms provides an opportunity to promote a more sustainable use of coastal and marine resources in a cost-effective manner. Second, by analyzing the different narratives that were embedded in the process, we argue that community-based fisheries co-management can benefit from creating narrative assemblages. Third, we explore how the principles of agnosticism, generalized symmetry, and free association can be integrated in the work of fisheries managers to neutralize power imbalances with fishing communities. Fourth, we contribute to the current conceptualization of hybrid organizations in fisheries co-management.