The bulk of the world's fisheries--including the kind of small-scale, often non-industrialized fisheries that millions of people depend on for food--could be sustained using community-based co-management. This is the conclusion of a study reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
"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," says Nicolas Gutirrez, a University of Washington fisheries scientist and lead author of the Nature paper.
"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," he says.
"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.
"This important research shows that a better understanding of ecological, social and economic interactions--and shared responsibilities for management--can yield sustainable well-being for ecosystems and fishers alike," says Phillip Taylor, section head in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research.
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 protecting Chile's most valuable fishery. In 1988, local fishers in a single community began cooperating along a 2-mile (4-kilometer) stretch of coastline. Today it involves 700 co-managed areas with 20,000 artisanal fishers along 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) of coastline.
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation