Co-management of fisheries is widely practiced in most Asian and Pacific countries, mostly through traditional arrangements on a pilot/demonstration scale, through projects.
Pilot/demonstration schemes have shown that economic, social and environmental benefits can be achieved through fisheries co-management;
The Workshop proposed that countries in Asia and the Pacific move towards organized implementation of co-management at local, provincial and national levels, i.e. they should mainstream fisheries co-management, building on existing co-management and community-based arrangements, where available.
The Workshop further noted the need to address the following challenges to successful co-management:
levels of poverty and marginalization amongst fishers in the region make it difficult for them to take an active role in fisheries management, and difficult for governments to regulate access;
a lack of awareness and communication of the potential benefits of co-management;
lack of equity and power-sharing between government and resource users, especially small-scale fishing communities;
policy and legislative frameworks that are not conducive of fisheries co-management;
a lack of empowerment of resource users, especially in small-scale fishing communities, that would enable them to co-manage fisheries and to benefit from shared management arrangements;
insufficient institutional linkages and communication between relevant stakeholders;
inadequate human capacity of many of the major stakeholders, including government and local organizations;
establishing cost-effective and efficient support and mechanisms for financing fisheries co-management, at all levels; and
integration of co-management with other policies, such as decentralization and poverty reduction.
The Workshop adopted the following common understanding of fisheries co-management:
Fisheries co-management can be understood as a partnership approach where government and the fishery resource users share the responsibility and authority for the management of a fishery or fisheries in an area, based on collaboration between themselves and with other stakeholders.
In line with the overall purpose of the Workshop to have fisheries co-management mainstreamed into the national system of fisheries management in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, building on existing fisheries co-management and community-based practices that exist in many of these countries, the Workshop developed a set of strategies (see box) and action items for the major players (see below).
Strategies to achieve the objective
Strategy 1: Demonstrate and communicate the benefits and importance of co-management, to promote the scaling up of pilot/demonstration activities at different levels of government
Strategy 2: Provide an appropriate national policy and legislative frameworks to enable effective co-management of both small- and large-scale fisheries
Strategy 3: Ensure legitimate representation of, and trust among, stakeholders
Strategy 4: Strengthen human and institutional capacity of all relevant stakeholders to enable co-management
Strategy 5: Empower fishing communities to engage in co-management arrangements
Strategy 6: Establish, enhance and increase linkages and communication between stakeholders
Strategy 7: Focus research and learning on fisheries co-management
Strategy 8: Make available and support sustainable financial arrangements for fisheries co-management
Facilitate human and institutional capacity building at all appropriate levels, and across communities and scales, focusing on participation, communication and building partnerships.
Assist in collecting and sharing information on fishery resources, the fishing communities and factors constraining more effective fishery management.
Recognition of views and knowledge of local communities.
Facilitate the creation of effective institutional arrangements and linkages among the major stakeholders at all levels, building on existing arrangements.
Actions by national governments:
Review, develop and amend fishery policy and legislation to support fisheries co-management.
Create and support awareness of the potential benefits of fisheries co-management.
Ensure better cross-sectoral integration and communication where appropriate for fisheries co-management.
Establish agreed objectives for fisheries co-management through dialogue and negotiation with fishery communities and civil society organizations/NGOs, along with the roles and responsibilities of different players involved.
Ensure that staff at all levels are adequately skilled and experienced to facilitate the implementation of fisheries co-management.
Assist in the empowerment of communities, and ensure equitable distribution of the benefits of co-management.
Allocate appropriate budgets for fisheries co-management practices.
Encourage research agencies to undertake applied research that meets high priority needs of major stakeholders (as a pre-requisite, co-management stakeholders may need to develop mechanisms to prioritize and communicate research needs).
Actions by regional and intergovernmental organizations:
In order to assist states to place co-management higher on national agendas, not as an option but as a core strategy, they will:
Act as fora to raise awareness and exchange ideas at various levels, including at the local community level.
Promote networking at various levels.
Assist governments through provision of technical and policy support.
Exchange information with policy decision-makers about field practice and experiences.
Collaborate with other stakeholders in providing technical assistance/capacity building/training at various levels (including NGOs and facilitators at various levels).
Coordinate the networking of institutions that have an interest in human capacity development for co-management.
Foster participation, partnerships and trust among governments, NGOs, financial institutions etc.
In order to improve coordination of their own efforts in facilitating the adoption of fisheries co-management:
Define and adopt common language/messages on co-management.
Coordinate planning in how to promote the strategies and actions listed above.
Improve communication strategies with major stakeholders (through the use of simplified reports, policy briefs, etc.) and engage the media more effectively to promote fisheries co-management.
Develop electronic networks to increase dialog among major stakeholders.
Actions by international or regional research:
Agencies should undertake research, and collate, synthesize and disseminate knowledge of best practices at various levels in a form easily accessible to government and non-government stakeholders.
Actions by non-governmental and civil society organizations:
Engage with and build better partnerships with government and other stakeholders.
Facilitate effective communication and information sharing among stakeholders, especially governments and fishing communities.
Work closely with communities in the co-management process and the institutional development required.
Work closely with Government agencies in the co-management process. NGOs often play an important role in capacity building within provincial and district level agencies involved in co-management.
Facilitate local participatory research on relevant fisheries co-management issues.
Actions by aid agencies/donors (suggestions to be developed in further consultation, since the Workshop was not representative of all donors themselves):
Streamline agency interventions with the need for mainstreaming fisheries co-management.
Actions by fishing communities (suggestions to be developed in further consultation, since the Workshop was not representative of all communities):
Take responsibility for fisheries co-management actions.
Immediate next steps/follow-up:
Broader-based workshop of co-management practitioners (to be discussed by task force drawn from relevant organizations/projects (CHARM-EU, ICSF, WorldFish, FAORAP, AIT, APFIC)) that might help organize it with possible venues including Nepal, Republic of Korea.