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8.1. The social context of stock enhancement

The implementation of stock enhancement as a management strategy requires a review of who has access to the resource, and if this has not yet been done, an allocation of rights. Indeed, stock enhancement initiatives are a waste of time if not complemented by additional management strategies directed to sustaining the activity over time. If the fishery is under an open access system, it is not clear how the biological and economic benefits of enhancement can be properly realized.

The social context is the key to success for local fishery restoration, if inshore fishery management programmes are to succeed. Local municipal control of shellfisheries is a common phenomenon in the USA, and has given rise to a diversity of shellfish cultivation techniques, some of which have been described in this report. The history of a shellfish management programme as described by MacFarlane (1998) on Cape Cod, Massachussetts, is of interest. This evolved from relaying native oysters, to the use of hatchery-raised seed and several approaches to nursery culture: bottom culture, raft culture, a municipal hatchery, a land-based upweller system, tidal upweller, and floating trays. The programme always operated under ongoing financial restrictions and changing political and social factors. The management priority was primarily on the high survival of spat rather than fast growth, and the most successful approach was found to be a land-based upweller system which provided 1 million seed/year with 95 percent survival. Subsequent survival in the field after relaying was determined mainly by the environmental conditions at the time of planting.

A further example is provided by MacFarlane (1996) of a local socially driven programme which arose from concern about declining stocks of municipally managed shellfish species. In this case, deterioration of water quality and habitat forced the local town council to address the causes of environmental degradation through instituting a water-quality task force, with terms of reference to recommend changes in land-use practices. This led to a drainage remediation programme, and resulted in the reopening of a shellfish ground after a 12 year closure for reasons of public health. The issues mentioned that adversely affected shellfish quality and hence enhancement, were nutrient runoff, groundwater, flushing rate of bays, and contamination associated with proliferation of private docks in the public tidelands, as well as the effects of beach dynamics and the erosion control mechanisms installed.

One conclusion that leads to a more specific and appropriate use of coastal areas with minimal negative interaction, is to ensure that user rights are specified for specific subareas of the coastal area within a realistic map, preferably specified within a GIS (Geographical Information System) (Taconet and Bensch, 2000; Manson and Die, 2001). This can become an essential basis for consideration by the local and regional authorities of suitable areas where exclusive user rights can permit cost-effective stock restoration. In many developing countries the question of creation of sources of employment is politically important, and often fisheries have been the "employment of last resort" for impoverished peoples. Removing this option, following the logic of restricted entry beloved of economists of developed countries, can have serious consequences on the quality of life and diet for the rural poor. It is this aspect that often leads to reluctance to allow exclusive user rights to coastal populations, but the best alternative seems to be to ensure that these rights are delegated to the community for reallocation to community members of specific areas/resources for stock enhancement.

8.2. Legislation and ownership

The elucidation of ownership is a critical issue in enhancement programmes. Free-rider behaviour under unrestricted access is a common feature in coastal shellfisheries (Seijo, 1993; Shepherd and Rodda, 2001). Enhancement of high-value shellfish stocks under a specified ownership regime will discourage unproductive investment (in time or money) by groups of fishers which will tend to absorb an important share of the enhancement benefits. Thus, methods of restricting access to the enhanced stock must be introduced, together with some legislation to protect rights of fishing of those persons or organizations that invested in the enhancement programme (Castilla, 1994; Addison and Bannister, 1994; Castilla and Defeo, 2001). This issue of limiting access to the fishery is still controversial: Mahon et al. (2003) stressed that, whereas some fishers recognize that the most efficient way to control sea urchin harvesting in Barbados is by limiting the number of?shers, the majority are of the view that no one should be prevented from harvesting, and that over?shing should be controlled by adjusting the length of the fishing season.

Institutional changes are needed in support of enhancement schemes, based on an adequate legislation that must recognize the concept of ownership and adequate use rights to protect investments (Bailly, 1991; Troadec, 1991; Bannister and Pawson, 1991; Castilla, 1994). This topic has been considered as a necessary condition for any enhancement programme to succeed (Larkin, 1991). It becomes critical to identify those who pay the hatchery costs in order to assign them the corresponding benefits. Thus, some legislation directed to protect the rights of authorized fishers will be required to ensure that only those who invested or who were responsible for the enhancement programme can benefit from the increased stocks. If a private company or fishery cooperative releases spat, there must be some confidence as to the benefits that will be obtained. This consideration increases in importance with the increasing scarcity and cost of catching wild shellfish, which in turn makes stock enhancement procedures economically attractive. If the resource is under open access, there is no basis for any private investment in stock enhancement, and little or no return to government from doing so.

The scale and objectives of stock enhancement are related to the entry or person who receives the allocation of rights. If it is intended to enhance the stock "for the public good", the scale of operation should probably be larger than in a strict private context. In the former case, some efforts must be made to legislate criteria for allocation of rights so as to favour those who wish to participate in enhancement of the fishery, and we may suggest that evidence of adequate funding set aside for the purpose would be one criterion for participation. Conflicts of interest might occur between different groups of resource users, as well as between fishers and other marine activities (see Bannister and Pawson, 1991). In cases of private hatcheries, the scale of enhancement should be smaller and restricted to those areas with specific rights of access. Commercial fishing licenses might be required for this purpose. Despite the above considerations, problems related to the allocation of space or catch between investing and non-investing groups are likely to remain.

Castilla (1994) illustrated a successful example of institutionalization of management practices in the Chilean small-scale benthic shellfisheries, notably those based on a mixed scheme. This included enhancement, together with allocation of rights through fishery preserves or concessions. The Chilean artisanal fishery activity is developed along more than 4 000 km of coastline, including 200 small coastal villages, coves or "caletas". After an increasing period of landings, which peaked in 1991 with ca. 150 000 t, many Chilean shellfishes were overexploited. In 1991 a new Chilean law was approved, and incorporated the concept of "Maritime Destination", a management area for benthic resources accessed only by duly organized artisanal communities pertaining to each cove. Access to these areas by community members is free of cost, and based on an agreement on management and exploitation plans between fishers and the fishery authority. The management plan is periodically reviewed according to specific rules established in the legislation. The marine concessions were used to evaluate the recovering capacity of some shellfishes in the absence of fishing i.e. passive or natural restocking. Alternatively, the local community can subject these grounds to specific enhancement activities, including the granting of permits to use seed collectors. Thus, efficient management practices were accompanied by some sort of ownership, by which the artisanal community defended their grounds and promoted stock enhancement as in agriculture. Although there are several "similar" examples in other benthic shellfisheries, cultural perceptions, legal, political and economic factors, degree of knowledge about the resource and even the geography of each coastline are different in each case, and thus there is not a magic rule to apply to provide successful enhancement results (Castilla and Defeo, 2001).

The sessile or sedentary nature of shellfishes favours the allocation of TURFs to individuals or groups on specific grounds. However, shellfish have marked spatial variations in abundance, so that some rationale must be found to allocate ownership or access rights as a function of the relative productivity of each area. Priority might be given to those fishers with longer activity in the fishery. Grounds might be transferable according to the performance of each fisher, which could be evaluated on a communal basis. An example of this is given by Seijo (1993) for the collectively managed spiny lobster fishery of Punta Allen, Mexico. This isolated coastal community in the Yucatan Peninsula is a collective voluntary organization that performs informal privatization of fishing grounds to sustain resource rent over time. The temporary (renting) or permanent (selling) transfer of individual rights to fishing grounds involves simple artisanal transactions: a specific payment is made according to ground size and its perceived relative productivity in previous years. Permanent transfer of fishing grounds between cooperative members may include monetary payments and/or barter transactions. A variety of penalties imposed by strong community rules and self-policing strategies assure a relatively stable development of the community. Stock enhancement in this context is promoted through the use of artificial habitats or "sombras", so that each fishing ground can be subjected to a variety of enhancement initiatives as a result of a community-based management scheme (see also Miller, 1994 and references therein). Similar concepts were proposed by Brand et al. (1991) for the pectinid fisheries of the Isle of Man: the success of large-scale transplantations of spat depends on the voluntary cooperation of the local community (see example below). However, enforcement becomes more difficult as the number of fishers, landing sites, and regulated species, increases. The success of the earlier examples basically relies on the relative isolation of the local communities and the restricted scale of the territorial permit, which in turn favours the implementation of self-policing strategies and voluntary cooperative action to avoid the infringement of rules and free-rider behaviour (Seijo, 1993).

Jamieson (1986) explained the rationale behind fishery regulations on invertebrates in British Columbia, Canada, classifying them by management concern (Table 8.1), which illustrates the many and varied practical, theoretical, and administrative issues that require attention from fisheries scientists in a varied invertebrate fishery:

8.3. Co-management

High enforcement and policing costs attenuate efficient resource allocation over time. In this context, the legitimization of the participation of fishers in the management process is seen as the only way to promote compliance with regulations (Castilla et al., 1998). In contrast, minimum management controls need to be evaluated periodically to ensure that the privileged group is making socially acceptable use of the resource. In this context, effective control could be achieved through the joint management by fishers and government, i.e. co-management. Here, resource users must ideally be incorporated at various levels into management decision-making through active consultation within those bodies responsible for management. Moreover, the local community should be authorized to enforce and assure (through internal rules and self-policing strategies) that management tools (gear regulations, quotas, closed seasons/areas, harvest limits) are being respected, and free rider behaviour minimized or avoided. Hanna (1994) briefly documented the case of the Maine soft-shell clam Mya arenaria as a typical example of co-management, in which the State and the coastal towns share the control of management. "The local communities with approved shellfish conservation programmes are authorized to design and implement management plans which set harvest limits, establish open and closed areas, establish the rules of access and enforce regulations" (Hanna, 1994: p. 234). This is critical when an active enhancement of productivity is projected.

Table 8.1 Rationales behind invertebrate fisheries regulations: the British Columbia example (from Jamieson, 1986).

Management concern

Management measures




- Area quotas and seasonal closures
- Gear restrictions

- Abalone, geoduck, shrimp (trawl), sea-urchin
- All species



- Vessel quotas

- Abalone


Stability of return

- Minimum size limit
- Limited entry
- Area quota
- Seasonal closure

- Abalone, intertidal clams, crabs, sea urchin
- Abalone, geoducks, horse clams, shrimp (trawl)
- Geoduck
- Prawn, shrimp (trap)


Conflict over grounds/resources

- Area closures
- Quotas
- Seasonal closures

- Shrimp (trawl and trap), euphausids
- Euphausids
- Euphausids


Processing economics

- Seasonal closures

- Crab, sea urchin


Social factors

- Closed areas
- Human health closures

- Abalone, clams octopus, crabs - Horse clams, intertidal clams, goose barnacles



- Closed areas
- Fishing log completion
- Research study areas
- License requirements

- Abalone
- Abalone, geoduck, shrimp (trawl and trap), octopus, goose barnacles, euphausids, sea cucumber, sea urchin
- Geoduck, shrimp trawl, sea cucumber
- (Almost) all species

While it is generally accepted that "co-management is an effective means of minimizing conflict in fisheries management and recirculating the benefits of effective management back into the local communities" (Noble, 2000), the development of this strategic institutional structure (sensu Orensanz and Jamieson, 1998) has been slowed by institutional constraints. Institutions are important prerequisites to effective co-management, and form the substrate from which decisions are made and collective action is taken. In a context of uncertainty, it is imperative to develop and establish a legal framework formalizing community responsibility in the management process. This should preserve traditional rights of use and access to the resources, but also add modern elements of fisheries management. Thus, once this strategic institutional arrangement is in place, additional, risk-averse, precautionary management schemes could be gradually introduced (Castilla and Defeo, 2001).

Much attention has focused around co-management as a process for realizing effective fisheries management. In the light of the current dangerous state of many shellfish resources, a reasonable attitude to conduct enhancement initiatives is to "close the fisheries management cycle" (see Chapter 2) by involving the fishers communities in designing stock-rebuilding programmes. Adopting the traffic light approach (sensu Caddy, 2002) to management potentially restores to the local communities the necessary range of data for informed decision-making, and more control over their traditional fishing grounds (Castilla, 1994; Hanna, 1994). The absence of co-management practices supported by appropriate legislation, and guided by reliable data is a critical factor that has led to the collapse of coastal small-scale benthic fisheries around the world. Scientists and policy-makers must learn from the various forms of community-based management followed for centuries by traditional fisher communities, and not assume that traditional approaches must be discarded, as opposed to updated. Frequently this is the opposite approach to that followed by fishery management bodies over the past 30-40 years. Local communities need to agree on appropriate responses when an increasing number of indices move beyond their LRPs into a "red" category (Annex I), which justifies closure of fisheries for stock-rebuilding purposes. Once this agreement is achieved, local fishers must participate actively in the implementation and control and surveillance activities, and the management measures needed to restore stocks to health. They should know what indices, what values of indices, and why, should lead to prompt action by stakeholders. Thus, co-management of fisheries is likely to provide the context for applying traffic light control systems, since top-down management approaches arguably have not worked (Castilla and Defeo, 2001). The fruitful interaction among fishers, policy makers, scientists, extension workers and politicians should provide a comprehensive course of action in scope, including cooperation in setting up easily understandable and reactive mechanisms to respond to overfishing indicators (Caddy, 2002).

Castilla and Defeo (2001) concluded that co-management constitutes an effective institutional arrangement by which fishers and managers could interact to improve the quality of the regulatory process and to sustain Latin American shellfish over time. The authors also highlighted the advantages of institutionalizing co-management procedures for stock-rebuilding purposes. The most important factors supporting this statement concern the development of enhancement programmes, and were summarized by the authors as follows:

  1. A comparatively reduced scale of fishing operations and well-defined boundaries for each management sub-unit is required. Whenever possible, the scale of the management unit should ideally be that corresponding to the range of activities of the local fishing community, thus facilitating the application of co-management, as demonstrated by the successful Chilean examples documented in this text.

  2. Allocation of institutionalized co-ownership authority and responsibility to fishers in shellfish management decisions and actions concerning stock enhancement programmes needs to be explicit (Pinkerton, 1994; Gimbel, 1994; Pomeroy and Williams, 1994; Mahon et al., 2003). Shellfish co-management needs to be institutionalized within a legal framework including well-defined fishers’ rights, responsibilities and a clear identification of the community role in the management process. Participation of fishers will improve shellfish management: and the perception of ownership by fishers is the most important focal point determining co-management success (Castilla, 1994). Informal government recognition is not enough for allocation of TURFs or other fishing rights and ad hoc implementation of co-management systems. Several examples which included the voluntary participation of the fishers in enforcing regulations became unsuccessful years later, due to changing management policies (Defeo, 2003). Fishers felt themselves unprotected under an uncertain management environment, and changed their long-term, "sustainable" perspective on the fishery to a short-term, profit-maximizing behavior. The legitimacy of co-management and the perception of ownership by fishers should override or constrain expectations of the benefits to be derived from shellfish extraction. The assignment of fishing grounds to well-defined groups of fishers represents the recognition of the role of local communities in conservation and management.

  3. Communal ownership encourages cooperation among fishers and improves surveillance of regulations, and reduces information and enforcement costs. Well organized fisher communities take good care of their assigned fishing grounds by preventing illegal extractions. This has had major repercussions on yields, product quality (individual sizes far above the minimum legal size permitted) and economic returns (Castilla, 1997). In some cases, the relative isolation of the community and the restricted scale of the territorial permit, favor the implementation of self-policing strategies and a voluntary cooperative action to avoid infringement of rules (Seijo, 1993). Together, these may significantly increase yields from enhanced stocks. Thus, fishers play an outstanding role in the implementation and surveillance of regulations, and the reduction of enforcement costs. This is of utmost importance, because it has been widely documented that, at least in developing countries, operational and quota-based management measures are extremely difficult to enforce and are beyond the finances of most management agencies. Moreover, reliable information flowing from fishers to scientists implies lower monitoring and enforcement costs, and provides fine-grained signals about resource status, which allows spatially explicit management measures (e.g. ground closures) to be established. Implementation of regulatory measures in a co-management context provides an incentive to fishers to adhere to and get involved with enforcing regulations, thus reducing the probability of occurrence of free-riders and illegal fishing (Defeo, 1989; Castilla, 1994).

  4. Improvement of the quality and quantity of fishery information results from cooperation and improved information flow. Cooperation among scientists, fishers and managers exponentially increases the quality and quantity of fishery information, with clear management connotations (McCay, 1989), reducing the misreporting and uncertainties inherent to stock assessment. Information on the spatial dynamics of fishing effort and economic indicators (fixed and variable operating costs, ex-vessel species prices) has also been improved (Defeo and Castilla, 1998). Cross-fertilization between large-scale and long-term field experiments and co-management has a synergistic effect on the acquisition of knowledge on the dynamics of the stock and the fishery (Pinkerton, 1994, 1999; Jentoft, McCay and Wilson, 1998).

  5. Existence of community fishery traditions needs to be conserved. Fisher communities that have taken the responsibility for managing coastal shellfish resources, often build upon old or traditional roots (Castilla, 1994; Johannes, 1998). Ancient collective organizations often found in coastal shellfisheries include strong community rules and voluntary self-policing tools. Small groups with clearly defined members and leadership encourage cooperation, and promote the identification and exclusion of non-contributing users. Thus, trust among fishers and group cohesion is necessary conditions to improving co-management (Pomeroy and Williams, 1994).

  6. Allocation of TURFs has proved an effective tool where geographically restricted harvesting occurs. When accompanied by co-management, allocation of TURFs ameliorates the weaknesses of enforcement regulations, diminishing information and enforcement costs (Mantjoro, 1996). In these cases, fishers play an outstanding role in the implementation and surveillance of regulations, improving the status of shellfisheries, increasing abundance, individual sizes of the specimens and the economic benefits derived from the enhanced stocks (Seijo, 1993; Castilla, 1994, González, 1996; Castilla et al., 1998). Given the current state of most benthic shellfish stocks around the world and the continuing declining trend or collapse of many resources, effective management is likely to be a hybrid of traditional and modern arrangements. The community may allocate extraction quotas, access rules and self-policing strategies among fishers, whereas the government should retain the authority to modify the management plan by setting or modifying operational management measures (e.g. legal sizes, closures, gear regulations: Castilla and Defeo, 2001). The local relevance of a given mix of management strategies will depend on the kind of resources to be enhanced and managed, and the nature of the ecosystem inhabited by the species. Some pros and cons of different management schemes in shellfish populations are discussed in Chapter 2.

  7. Co-management improves the results of enhancement experiments and the application of spatially explicit management tools (e.g. reproductive refugia, rotation of grounds, natural re-stocking). Management experiments without the help and advice of fishers are nonsense. The joint venture into enhancement experiments between fishers, scientists and managers promotes a better understanding of the biology of shellfish stocks and leads to adequate administration of wild resources and/or habitats for conservation and management. Experimental management units (e.g. involving TURFs), with dissimilar effort levels in each, could be the subject of a rigorous experimental design in which the spatial and temporal coupling of operational management tools (i.e. management redundancy) could be evaluated through specific "area-season windows" (Caddy, 1999a) to consolidate a sustainable management framework for shellfish. Participation of fishers is of critical importance in assuring unbiased reporting of results and implementation of an up to date information flow from fishers to scientists, as well as in enforcing regulations through their participation throughout the enhancement experiment.

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