What is governance?
Governance is a systemic function of a complex fisheries administration
The term “governance” covers both: (i) the activity or process of governing; (ii) those people charged with the duty of governing: and (iii) the manner, method and system by which a particular society is governed. In fisheries it is usually understood as the sum of the legal, social, economic and political arrangements used to manage fisheries. It has international, national and local dimensions. It includes legally binding rules, such as national legislation or international treaties as well as customary social arrangements.
The term governance is widely used nowadays to cover institutions, instruments and processes ranging from short term operational management to long term policy development and planning and from conventional forms of administration to modern forms of participative decision-making processes. Although these activities represent a continuum from the higher to the lower scales of the fishery sector, they tend to be divided in policy (high level governance) and management (medium to low level governance).
Simplified diagram of maritime zones and distribution of shared, straddling and highly migratory stocks as defined by UNCLOS
The importance of governance can be better appreciated by considering its responsibilities. Governance is expected to establish overriding principles and objectives; maintain and adapt infrastructure and instruments; develop policy and regulatory frameworks, plans, norms and regulations; connect government with civil society; organize and coordinate collective action; legitimate and balance stakeholders interaction; harmonize individual, sectoral and societal perspectives; maintain productive socio-ecological systems and social order; enforce decisions and regulations; maintain coherence across jurisdictional, space and time scales; define the conditions for allocation of power, resources and benefits; interact with other governance systems; and maintain the capacity to learn and change.