Modern fishery governance is a systemic concept relating to the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority. It is characterized by:

  • guiding principles and goals, both conceptual and operational;
  • the ways and means of organization and coordination;
  • the infrastructure of socio-political, economic and legal institutions and instruments;
  • the nature and modus operandi of the processes;
  • the actors and their roles;
  • the policies, plans and measures that are produced; as well as
  • the outcomes of the exercise.

Policy and frameworks

Fishery governance establishes the overriding principles and objectives of the sector. It develops the policy and regulatory frameworks. It connects government with civil society, harmonizing individual, sectoral and societal perspectives and maintaining social order and productive socio-ecological systems. It legitimates and balances stakeholders interaction, enforces decisions and regulations and maintains coherence across jurisdictional, space and time scales. Finally, it conditions the allocation of power, resources and benefits and maintains the governance system capacity to learn and change.

Governance at all levels

Fishery governance has international, national and local dimensions. It includes legally binding rules, such as national policies and legislation or international treaties as well as customary social arrangements. It is multiscale, covering long-term, strategic, planning as well as short-term operational management and local fisheries as well as whole ecosystems. It has public, private, and hybrid components that interact in ensuring administration and regulation of the sector.

More environmentally conscious, precautionary and participative forms of fishery governance are emerging from the UNCED process in which the keywords are: commitment, legitimacy, credibility, transparency, performance assessment, oversight, duty of care, equity, science and other knowledge, traditional values, ethics, systemic, multiscale, integration, coordination, adaptive, affordable and context sensitive.

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