Team leader Dr. Josh Cinner of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University, Australia explained: "We found clear evidence of people's ability to overcome the 'tragedy of the commons' by making and enforcing their own rules for managing fisheries. This is particularly encouraging because of the perceived failure of many open-access and top-down government-controlled attempts to manage fisheries around the world. More importantly, we have identified the conditions that allow people to make co-management successful, providing vital guidance for conservation groups, donors, and governments as to what arrangements are most likely to work."
The team studied local fisheries arrangements on coral reefs in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, using a combination of interviews with local fishers and community leaders, and underwater fish counts.
The study's main finding is that co-management has been largely successful in sustaining fisheries and improving people's livelihoods. More than half the fishers surveyed felt co-management was positive for their livelihoods, whereas only 9 percent felt it was negative. A comparison of co-managed reefs with other reefs showed that co-managed reefs were half as likely to be heavily overfished, which can lead to damaged ecosystems.
"However we also found that where fisheries are closest to big, hungry markets, they tend to be in worse shape," said Dr. Nick Graham of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. "This strongly suggests globalized food chains can undermine local, democratic efforts to manage fisheries better. People often assume that local population size is the main driver of overfishing but our research shows that access to global markets and seafood dependence are more important, and provide possible l
|Contact: John Delaney|
Wildlife Conservation Society