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 marine and freshwater ecosystems as well as diverse fishing gears and targeted species.
Statistical analysis shows that co-management typically fails without: prominent community leadership and social cohesion clear incentives that, for example, give fishers security over the amount they can catch or the area in which they can fish and protected areas, especially when combined with regulated harvest inside or outside the area and when the protected area is proposed and monitored by local communities.
"Additional resources should be spent on efforts to identify community leaders and build social capital rather than only imposing management tactics without user involvement," says Gutirrez.
The study further confirms the theories of Elinor Ostrom, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for challenging the conventional wisdom that common property is always poorly managed, and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized.
Resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement, Ostrom said, to handle conflicts of interest.
"With community-based co-management, fishers are capable of self-organizing, maintaining their resources and achieving sustainable fisheries," says Omar Defeo, a biologist at the University of Uruguay, scientific coordinator of Uruguay's national fishery management program, and a co-author of the paper.
Gutirrez and colleagues assembled data from scientific literature, government and non-government reports,
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation