National governance of fisheries
Key processes needed to develop and implement the rules in fisheries management. Decision-making occurs on a variety of time scales: over days or weeks (double broken-line), annually (solid line) and less frequently, e.g. every 3 to 5 years (dashed line)
The requirement that States manage their resources sustainably is included in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Article 61):
"The coastal State, taking into account the best scientific evidence available to it, shall ensure through proper conservation and management measures that the maintenance of the living resources in the exclusive economic zone is not endangered by over-exploitation."
The institutional implications of this duty are explicitly stated in the voluntary FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (Para 7.1.1):
"States and all those engaged in fisheries management should, through an appropriate policy, legal and institutional framework, adopt measures for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources."
Achieving sustainable fisheries is hindered by several problems, including biological and ecological uncertainty, and the tendency to pursue short-term social and economic objectives at the expense of longer-term sustainability objectives. In fisheries circles, institutional problems are also frequently referred to as being a fundamental problem, but there is considerable uncertainty as to the exact nature of these problems or, in fact, what exactly is meant by the term "institution". One definition of an institution is: "simply the set of rules actually used by a set of individuals to organise repetitive activities that produce outcomes affecting those individuals and potentially affecting others" (OECD, 1997). However, an alternative definition that may be more useful within the context of fisheries is: "An institution is not only the rules themselves, it includes the process and organisations (public and private, formal and informal) that develop and implement the rules (management measures) affecting use of the fishery resources." (OECD, 1997)
Features of effective management
Based on this framework, a set of institutional features essential for effective fisheries management can be identified. This includes the following.
In fisheries, two institutional weaknesses are particularly important: (i) the widespread existence of inappropriate mechanisms and approaches for regulating access to a particular fishery; and (ii) the failure to include the key stakeholders in the management process. Much of the emphasis in improving fisheries management has been on addressing these two issues.