The Workshop background paper on Policy and legislative frameworks for co-management examined the policy and legislative frameworks for co-management in 13 countries in Asia and the Pacific, and the extent to which these frameworks hinder or support co-management practices.
Co-management in the wide sense of government partnerships with other stakeholders for the purpose of natural resource management, rather than just the narrower concept of community-based management, is an emerging trend. The trend is driven by, amongst other things, an awareness of resource depletion, conflicts both within the sector and between fisheries and other sectors, and the perceived benefits of co-management as an approach. In the face of increasing pressure on fisheries resources, the need to formally codify existing community management practices through greater government involvement and legislative support has also been important. Furthermore, implementation of co-management is now being encouraged, or at least enabled, by decentralisation policies in almost all of the case study countries.
Political will is the prerequisite to the establishment of co-management mechanisms. It must be reflected in policy, legislation and action specific to the fisheries sector, as well as more generally in government policy and legislative support.
However, many of the current co-management initiatives remain pilot projects only, and are strongly driven and supported by donors. The nature of policy and legislative frameworks is varied, as is commitment by governments; in some cases support is more rhetoric than real, with insufficient transfer of powers and financial resources to local levels.
The background paper presented on "lessons learned" gave an analysis of the different case studies, and a number of conclusions were drawn about the key characteristics of a supportive policy and legislative framework based on ideas of "best practice". The adoption of these characteristics by governments would demonstrate their commitment to co-management, and increase the likelihood of co-management success.
Some participants stressed the fact that elaboration and enacting new legislation was a relatively long process especially if based on a consultative approach and that it required strong political will.
Some participants expressed concern about the emphasis given to enabling conditions and prerequisite "success factors". The consequence may be counter productive in terms of developing a management approach that should in essence remain adaptive.
It was also mentioned that many experiences in co-management appear to be donor driven. Such experiences are often the best documented. However, there are co-management elements that have been spontaneously introduced in small-scale communities.
Various short presentations made by Workshop participants on co-management experiences are included as Annex 4 of this report.