Encouraging new evidence suggests that the bulk of the world's fisheries including small-scale, often non-industrialized fisheries on which millions of people depend for food could be sustained using community-based co-management.
"The majority of the world's fisheries are not and never will be managed by strong centralized governments with top-down rules and the means to enforce them," according to Nicolas Gutirrez, a University of Washington doctoral student in aquatic and fishery sciences who is lead author of a paper that goes online Jan. 5 in the journal Nature. "Our findings show that many community-based co-managed fisheries around the world are well managed under limited central government structure, provided communities of fishers are proactively engaged.
"Community-based co-management is the only realistic solution for the majority of the world's fisheries and is an effective way to sustain aquatic resources and the livelihoods of communities depending on them."
Under such a management system, responsibility for resources is shared between the government and users. On the smallest scale, this might involve mayors and fishers from different villages agreeing to avoid fishing in each other's waters. Examples on a larger scale include Chile's most valuable fishery the snail called "loco," also known as Chilean abalone that started in 1988 with local fishers in a single community cooperating along a 2-mile (4-km) stretch of the coastline and today involves 700 co-managed areas with 20,000 artisanal fishers along 2,500 miles (4,000 km) of coastline.
While case studies of individual co-managed fisheries exist, this new work used data on 130 fisheries in 44 developed and developing nations and included such things as marine and freshwater ecosystems as well as diverse fishing gears and targeted species.
Statistical analysis shows co-management typically fails without such keys things as:
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University of Washington