Fishers and their wider communities have an important role to play in fisheries management, but first they need the skills to understand the management process and the knowledge required of their roles and responsibilities. Good leadership can play an important part in this but can also distort the outcomes. Building community capacity to participate, engage, share and cooperate can be equally as important.
During expert discussions, participants also highlighted leadership issues as being important at levels above the community, as initiatives for fisheries management or conservation of marine areas have often tended to be highly dependent on specific individuals with the commitment and charisma to encourage wider support for such initiatives, whether in local government, the NGO sector or at higher policy-making levels. They saw this dependence on specific leaders as representing vulnerability, because such individual “champions” are subject to generational change or regular transfer to other locations or fields of work, especially given the long timeframes often involved in fisheries management development.