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The core feature of locally developed, decentralised resource management is that user communities are ceded the rights and have the responsibilities for managing their own resources, typically using a mix of traditional or more formalised mechanisms of contract and enforcement to define access, exploitation methods and intensity. This is increasingly being applied in fisheries, though in many cases, the management structure is widened to include public sector agencies and other partners, in co-management.

There is a wide range of scope and practice in community-based management, depending on existing social contexts, resource features and the level of external partnership. The conditions for self-sustaining and socially equitable management for small-scale fisheries are not always easily met, and management information and the allocation of rights are common issues to resolve, often requiring external support.

 
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