11. Property Rights and Institutional Arrangements in Southeast Asian Fisheries
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Fisheries Co-Management 233 11 Property Rights and Institutional Arrangements in Southeast Asian Fisheries Rebecca Metzner a Abstract This paper reviews and synthesises available literature about fisheries management, property rights systems, and other institutional arrangements. It begins with an overview of the fundamental components of rights-based systems and uses this information to analyse the similarities and difference of common characteristics of the property rights systems spectrum, from conventional to alternative. The paper also gives an overview of various elements of community-based and co-management approaches – i.e., the ways in which stakeholders, especially fishers, communities, and governments interact. The paper examines the community-based fisheries management systems in several case studies from fisheries in Southeast Asia, looking at the respective elements of (i) rightsbased systems and (ii) collaborative management approaches. In closing, the paper identifies some of the current knowledge gaps and their implications for region-wide research and policy towards improving well-being amongst poor fisheriesdependent households in Southeast Asia. a Fishery Analyst - Fishing Capacity, Fisheries Economics and Policy Division (FIEP), Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Italy. (Correspondence: ) Fisheries&Poverty book.indb 233 10/28/08 3:32:49 PM Rebecca Metzner 234 Introduction In the fisheries management arena, three lessons have been learned over time: 1. Fisheries are finite and as a result, catch has to be similarly finite. Even tropical fisheries have a finite number of fish, and there must be limits to the amount of fish caught. 2. Since fisheries are finite, not everyone can make a profit out of it. Participation in fisheries also has to be finite, which means that access to capture fisheries must be limited. 3. Even if access and participation are limited, fishermen can still overfish their fisheries. There are many examples of limited access fisheries that have either implicit or explicit limits on total catches (total allowable catches or TACs) and are overfished, over capacitated, and unprofitable. Thus, it is not enough to limit participation and catch; there also has to be a sharing mechanism that determines clearly who gets what. In addition, there are two more lessons increasingly being understood by fishermen, policy makers, and fisheries managers. First is that centrally imposed, command and control regulatory regimes are not compatible with commercial forces that exist in fisheries. Indeed, command and control schedules increase fishing costs for fishermen and motivate them to catch more fish, either legally or, in desperation, illegally. Second, collaborative management efforts that reflect fisheries stakeholders’ concerns do work. Participation in decision-making vis a vis community-based co-management, can be useful and practical. By applying and building upon these lessons – (1) limiting catches; (2) limiting participation; (3) allocating catches; and (4) shifting to user rights systems within a participatory and collaborative environment – it is possible for people to have real reasons to be inspired in becoming stewards of their share of particular resources, to tend and utilise them carefully and sustainably. Fisheries&Poverty book.indb 234 10/28/08 3:32:49 PM Fisheries Co-Management 235 The fundamental four components of rights The core question that FAO and other agencies have been working on and advancing for more than a decade is how to sustainably utilise and share fisheries resources, namely, the establishment of fishing rights systems for fisheries stakeholders. This does not mean that one style of rights-based system fits all fisheries. The ways and extent to which rights-based systems can be useful – regardless of whether they are designed for individuals, stakeholders, of entire communities – will depend not only on the settings, the conditions, and the cultures in which they are applied, but also on the design details of the particular rights system (Nomura 2007). Therein lies the challenge of developing successful rights-based fisheries management systems. The first step in creating a rights-based system requires understanding existing fishing rights and more clearly defining these rights in terms of four fundamental characteristics as described in the seminal 1988 paper The Conceptual Origins of Rights Based Fishing (Scott 1988).1 Scott’s paper clearly describes these fundamental characteristics of rights – exclusivity, durability, security, and transferability – and how the relative strengths of these characteristics are linked to the success of a fisheries management system. A brief synopsis follows. Exclusivity Exclusivity refers to the extent to which the property rights holder uses and manages his entitlement, such as a share of a fish stock, without outside interference from other competitors or regulatory bodies. Without exclusivity...


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