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Part 1 - Management Guidelines (Contd)

5 Steps to Successful Management

This section summarises how the ideas in the what, who and how sections may be drawn together into a successful management strategy for floodplain river fisheries. The various steps are divided into those which should be taken by (1) national-level policy makers, (2) catchment managers (including any co-ordinating fora for multi-CMA rivers), and (3) managers of the individual CMAs, IMAs and VMAs. The steps are summarised in Figure 5.1 below and described more fully in the following tables.

Many of the activities described in these tables will be new to governments, or involve new forms of partnership with other organisations. It must therefore be emphasised that adoption of the proposed strategy should be built up slowly, using a ‘process’ approach, and by learning from successes and failures. Institutional arrangements - whether local fisheries management groups or higher level partnerships - are critical to the success of these approaches. These can not be defined in advance or imposed fully formed from above; they must also be allowed to evolve and develop, with effective participation from below. Time must be allowed for differences to be negotiated and conflicts to be resolved. Again, the approach taken should be gradual and should focus on learning continuously from experience, rather than on promoting a blueprint approach.

A useful first stage should be for fishery departments to develop a partnership with organisations experienced in facilitating the development of community organisations. Village management units should then be promoted, initially in simpler situations where waterbody control is relatively undisputed or where traditional institutions already exist. Activities for resolving conflicts between VMAs, or for developing IMA-level management should come later.

Figure 5.1Figure 5.1 Management activities required for effective co-management of fishery units (dotted lines indicate inputs by different organisations; solid arrows indicate the contribution of the information between different activities; the shaded area indicates the main components of the ongoing adaptive management process)

5.1 National level (leadership, endorsement and legitimisation)

The main responsibilities of national level fishery managers (the fisheries ministries / directorate generals etc) is for the promotion of improved management systems, and the endorsement of activities at the lower management levels. Decentralised management can not proceed effectively until the rights of local people and agencies to manage is recognised and clearly stated in the legislation.

5.2 Catchment level (regional leadership and co-ordination)

Management activities at the catchment level provide the necessary leadership and co-ordination of the lower VMA and IMA management units (see table). Managers at the catchment level must also be responsible for the management of whitefish stocks in the CMA-level management units (see Section 5.3). Catchment-level management activities may be undertaken by any appropriate administrative level below national government. Some countries may have two or even three administrative levels which could each participate in these management activities at appropriate stages. Where spatial administrative units do not overlap exactly with river catchments (as will often be the case), catchment level management may need to involve collaboration between two or more administrative regions. Such collaboration may either involve the creation of a new catchment management forum, or the writing of a memorandum or understanding between the existing units.

5.3 Management unit level (management of fishery resources)

The management activities in the final table provide for the sustainable, long-term management of the fisheries in each management unit. They should be undertaken by the co-management partners of each CMA, IMA and VMA unit, according to their interests and capacities.

National-level management activities

Select national objectives (Government)
  • Specify broad objectives (e.g. sustainable resource use, support of community objectives) rather than detailed targets, allowing finer specification at lower management levels.
  • Ensure compatibility with existing national plans and international agreements for conservation targets (e.g. UN Convention on Biodiversity, Agenda 21).
Develop national policy framework (Government)
  • Develop legislation which enables and supports decentralised co-management.
  • Enable adaptive management approaches by allowing rapid creation and adjustment of local management rules, with the minimum possible formal legislation.
Promote regional adoption of co-management strategies (Government)
  • Provide training and extension, supported by appropriate materials (e.g. translated copies of these guidelines).
  • Communicate lessons of management between catchment managers.
Manage interactions for international rivers (Government)
  • Discuss water resources and fisheries sharing for international rivers with national-level managers of adjacent countries.

Catchment-level management activities

Select catchment objectives
(Government Fisheries and Regional Planning Departments)
  • Ensure adaptation to local conditions and requirements, and compatibility with national-level objectives.
  • Ensure the maximum possible agreement with the interests of all stakeholders, but…
  • …select compatible objectives (not all objectives can be achieved at the same time).
Develop regional policy framework
(Government Fisheries and Legal Departments)
  • Adopt modified national legislation enabling decentralised co-management and rapid rule-making for adaptive management by fishery units.
Manage sectoral interactions
(Government Natural Resources Departments)
  • Identify natural resource exploitation zones for shared or exclusive use by fishers, agriculture, industry, national parks etc.
  • Investigate negative impacts between sectors, and promote understanding or mitigation.
  • Communicate the anticipated or estimated impacts of each sector on the productivity of local fisheries, to local management units to assist their adaptive management.
Identify management units
(Government and Unit Managers)
  • Identify suitable CMAs, VMAs, and IMAs, based on spatial distribution of floodplain systems (hydrology), migrations of fish stocks (blackfish and whitefish), and distributions of fishing communities. Use the interview checklist in all villages close to waterbodies, to provide the necessary understanding of the catchment's resources.
  • Build on any traditional management institutions still used successfully by fishing communities or local administrations
Allocate unit management responsibilities
(Government and Unit Managers)
  • Allocate management responsibilities to co-management partners where the listed ‘conditions for co-management success’ are met (see Section 3.5).
Coordinate management units
(Government and Unit Managers)
  • Ensure the compatibility of objectives for ‘nested’ units (e.g. VMAs within CMAs).
  • Promote the collaboration of management activities between adjacent units, particularly to enable migration of whitefish stocks.
  • Judge and resolve conflicts between units, as required.
  • Train unit managers, as required.
  • Provide catchment perspective for interpretation of local monitoring data
  • Communicate lessons of management between fishery units.

Management unit-level activities

Select unit objectives (Unit Managers and other Stakeholders)
  • Hold meeting(s) with unit stakeholders to discuss local fishery resources, and agree the local objectives for management of the fishery unit. Publicise the agreed objectives.
  • Ensure selected objectives are well adapted to local conditions and requirements, and compatible with national and catchment-level objectives.
  • Ensure the maximum possible agreement with the interests of all stakeholders, but…
  • … select compatible objectives (not all objectives can be achieved at the same time).
Assess the fishery resource (Unit Managers)
  • Interview fishers to measure the current outputs from the fishery, and compare with the selected objectives (are the objectives already being achieved, or is restrictive management required?).
  • Interview fishers or sample present catches to determine the relative importance of local blackfish and migratory whitefish in the catches of the unit.
  • Interview fishers about any declines in fish stocks, or historical changes in the species composition of fish catches (expect the large, most valuable fish species to decline first).
  • Interview fishers (see checklist) to determine the interactions between fishing gears in the fishery, and the likely impacts (both positive and negative) of different management strategies.
  • Review any scientific literature available for the fishery (from Fisheries Department?).
Design the management plan (Unit Managers and other Stakeholders)
  • Hold meeting(s) with stakeholders to discuss the results of the fishery assessments, and design an appropriate management plan to achieve local objectives.
  • Design an integrated ‘technical strategy’ (a combination of different management tools), to achieve (1) conservation of fish, (2) raising of funds for management, and (3) fair distribution of social benefits from the fishery. Select from the tools listed for each type of management unit (Section 4.3).
  • Design a complementary ‘institutional strategy’, indicating who will be responsible for each part of the management plan (rule setting, monitoring and enforcement, revenue management, future assessments, etc.)
  • Ensure that the plan has the greatest possible local benefits, and the minimum possible negative impacts (ensuring its support by local people, and reducing the requirements for strong enforcement). Discuss giving compensation to badly affected fishers.
Implement the management plan (Unit Managers)
  • Enact local legislation for management tools, if required.
  • Publicise the agreed management plan at public meetings, and with announcements on village notice boards etc., stating any new rules clearly and precisely (what are the new rules?; what are they intended to achieve?; when will they start?; what are the penalties for offenders?).
  • Enforce management rules, penalise offenders as required.
  • Resolve conflicts between fishers within the unit, and with outsiders.
  • Communicate monitoring data to catchment-level managers.
Adapt the management plan (Unit Managers)
  • Monitor fish abundances (CPUE's) and socio-economic outputs from the fishery, as required to determine whether selected management objectives are being achieved.
  • Monitor the amount and type of fishing (numbers of fishers, use of different fishing gears, introduction of new gears, prevalence of illegal fishing etc.), to determine whether the selected management tools are limiting fishing as intended.
  • Monitor local environmental conditions (water levels etc.), to determine their likely impact on the current productivity of the fishery.
  • Be aware of likely impacts of developments in other sectors within the catchment, such as loss of floodplain habitat to agricultural use, or loss of upstream fish spawning grounds (information to be provided by catchment managers).
  • Each year, compare the current outputs from the fishery, with those in previous years, particularly looking for trends in the outputs. Jointly examine the current fishing practices, local environment conditions, and wider catchment influences to determine what may be responsible for current output levels.
  • If the fishery outputs are not meeting the unit objectives due to continued high levels of fishing, or to changes in fishing practices, adjust the technical management strategy as appropriate (change the level of regulations, e.g. the length of the closed season, or add new management tools).
  • If the fishery outputs appear to be declining due to the impacts of other sectors, communicate results to catchment managers for discussions between sectors.

Bangladeshi floodplains support enormous numbers of fishers - some people own no fishing gears but may still catch a few small fish by rolling up a circle of weed (All photographs by D. D. Hoggarth)

The Komering River in Indonesia now dries up almost completely in the dry season due to irrigation works upstream

Bangladeshi fishers must operate alongside farmers who use the floodplains to grow rice for much of the year

Large-scale flood control schemes may give agricultural and social benefits, and create some fishing opportunities for ‘jump trap’ fishers, but they may also have negative impacts on the other fishers inside the schemeBangladesh's heavily exploited floodplain waters support millions of fishers, but catches now mainly comprise the very smallest fish and prawns

Fine-meshed fish traps usually indicate the most heavily exploited fisheries

Barrier traps such as corong flume traps and tuguk suspended trawls in Indonesia are expensive to construct, but highly effective at catching migrating fish

In Bangladesh, dry season floodplain waterbodies may even be pumped dry to extract the last remaining fish

Detailed scientific studies may provide a good basis for understanding aspects of the fishery but are only a small part of the overall management strategy

Rights to fish in some Indonesian waters are auctioned every year - such existing links between government and fishers provide good opportunities for developing further collaboration

Cheap ‘set-and-wait’ gears such as long-lines provide an income for the poorer fishers but may be negatively affected by regulations intended to control other gears

Even small floodplain waterbodies may enable many brood fish to survive the dry season, if protected as reserves (River Ganges, India)

Main river channels, such as the River Ganges in India are too big for the effective use of barrier or hoovering fishing gears and provide natural refuges for fish

Small channels draining the floodplain are used by migrating whitefish, but may be easily blocked by barrier traps (River Lempuing, Indonesia)

Sluice gates which provide fishing opportunities for a few ‘jump net’ fishers may also be operated to maximise fish migrations for wider benefits to the fishing community

Changes in the inputs to the fishery, such as the gear types in use, should be monitored in order to understand any changes in the monitored outputs

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