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Human Capacity and Finances Needed for Co-Management

A panel of experts was formed to discuss issues and considerations relating to human capacity and financing needs for co-management. The members of the panel each made a short presentation, followed by a plenary discussion.

The panel drew attention to a number of important questions for consideration by the Workshop. These included the following:

(a) What is the cheapest way to mainstream co-management?
(b) What is the best way to finance i) policy changes for mainstreaming, and ii) start up and capacity building?
(c) How should recurrent costs and benefits be shared?
(d) If co-management is newly applied, what are the new costs and what costs can be reduced?
(e) What are the side effects of co-management in terms of positive and negative costs?
(f) What are the costs involved in informing the government about the benefits of co-management?
(g) What is the best approach and what are the costs of building confidence and enthusiasm for co-management?
(h) How should informal ways of working be described and analyzed?
(i) How should capacity be built with communities more effectively?

In addressing these questions the panel made a number of short presentations:

In Japan, in the Kanagawa prefecture the total value of the catch is $84 million, and the annual government fisheries budget is $16.2 million with about half of the total being for research. Fishers also pay 8 percent of the value of catch to the 24 Fisheries Cooperative Associations (FCAs) in the prefecture. FCAs make local regulations, keep catch records, etc., and are an integral part of the management. Management costs as a percentage of the value of production are 27 percent, and high compared to the typical situation in Japan.

In Bang Saphan Bay in Thailand, where a co-management project has operated since 1999, resources have recovered as a result of trawlers and push net fishers being kept out of the demarcation area. This has attracted outsiders to come seasonally to fish in the Bay without making contributions to management costs of the fishery, but against which the members of the co-management group are unable to take action. Also, the boundaries and management rules are different in this area and a neighbouring bay, resulting in conflicts between local fishers. Agreeing boundaries of co-management areas is important in reducing conflict and therefore management costs and government can play a critical role in assisting groups to prevent the intrusion of non-members to designated areas. There is a need to document the effects of this project and spread the results more widely.

Human capacity building involves costs. For many resource users activities are made on a volunteer basis and low government salaries can also provide a disincentive. Conflicts are often generated by projects through payment of different levels of rewards. Better incentives must be considered to ensure the participation of stakeholders in co-management. Building on both formal and informal activities that are already being conducted can reduce costs. Rumour can be an effective way of reducing information costs. Costs can also be reduced through learning, rather than teaching, by using existing systems, and by delegating responsibility and creating ownership.

The different characteristics of conventional management and co-management imply different costs, especially in terms of human capacity development. For example, the multiple dimensional nature of co-management capacity building includes organizational and institutional development and the need to work across communities and scales, and to be more communicative.

Conflicts are often generated by projects through payment of different levels of rewards. Better incentives must be considered to ensure the participation of stakeholders in co-management. In the long-term, self-financing by communities must be considered given that it is unrealistic to expect governments to contribute additional funds. Self-financing can be increased through credit and savings schemes, alternative/supplementary activities as part of management, and self-taxation.

In response to the presentation of the panel, it was noted that costs of management can be changed by switching the type of fisheries management regulations being used and by giving fishers ownership of resources. They can also be reduced if management models and tools move from costly efforts to estimate stock maximum sustainable yields (MSYs) to more practical and relevant management tools based on local management of fisheries. It was observed that effecting policy change itself may not be costly, and that legislation must enable local management units (if possible constitutionally) to tax and re-invest in co-management at the local level.

Agreeing on who should pay for management costs and how management benefits should be allocated is very important, but can be complicated when there are multiple stakeholders involved in the catching of fish, e.g. absentee boat owners, those that lease vessels, vessel crew, etc. Capacity should be built at the grassroots level so that benefits and rights will not be captured by a few.

It was pointed out that the cost of management should be within the context of management space, i.e. what is the management unit, how is this decided and by whom? The question of how to optimize the space in order that cost may also be optimized was also raised. Participants observed that it is difficult to estimate changes to costs and benefits because most activities to date have only been of a pilot nature.

With reference to the existence of two types of fisheries in most Asian countries, i.e. small-scale and large scale, it was emphasized that there is a need to look at these two sectors simultaneously as they use the same resources. Moreover, small-scale fishers may bear some of the cost of managing their own fisheries but not major activities such as keeping the trawlers out of the coastal areas.

On who should take the initiative in mainstreaming co-management, one opinion says that it is the responsibility of the government who should take other stakeholders on board. The theory is that the financial cost of co-management will be gradually reduced as it becomes more systematic. The other costs (transaction costs) can also be seen to be a more acceptable "expense" as the stakeholders in a co-management system start to see positive results from their participation. In summary, the session agreed that examining the costs and cost effectiveness of co-management are essential.

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