Special Collection: Sustainable Fisheries

Coastal Fisheries Success Factors

Policy & Planning

Embrace Complexity

Address Conflicting Aims

Recognise Context

Operate at Multiple Scales

Ensure Institutional Coherence

Ensure Sustainability

Adapt to Changes

Technical Implementation

Establish Rights & Responsibilities

Change Incrementally

Understand Institutional Fit

Incorporate Politics

Address Costs and Benefits

Get Market Measures Right

community engagement

Understand Dependency

Balance Livelihoods

Build Capacity

Engage Fishers

Address Compliance

Ensure Participation

Link Knowledge Systems


Address Conflicting Aims

Fisheries management tries to address social, economic, environmental and political aims. These often conflict with each other (Cochrane, 2002). Deciding how to trade-off between different aims is not an objective process but is ultimately a political one that needs trade-offs through negotiation.

A fishery is a complex system which links individual human endeavor, enterprise, risk, culture, the physical world, technology, the natural world, the political economy and wider society’s beliefs, aspirations and values . Different people’s perceptions of reality, and their ideals can influence the aims that are chosen for different interventions. For example, wilderness science uses two points on a spectrum when approaching management: 1) the pristine wilderness devoid of humans, and 2) humanized landscapes and manipulated ecosystems (Belsky, 2000). Different fisheries ecosystems lie within this spectrum but different aims place different fisheries at different points along it.

At any one time the stated aims of fisheries management may be maximization of production, conservation of resources and ecosystems, maximization of economic benefits to the nation, food and nutrition security, foreign exchange generation, employment, poverty reduction, sustainable resource use, or maximization of ecosystem service provision. There may also be many unstated aims such as rent seeking by politicians or for powerful groups that might otherwise threaten political stability, or appeasement of some parts of the electorate, or trade-offs with other non-fisheries aims in other sectors.

Diversity in the aims for fisheries management is a fact and this needs to be acknowledged and reconciled if we are to move forwards successfully. Berkes et al. (2001) discuss in some detail how conflicts between objectives can be resolved but ultimately this requires agreement on a prioritization process.

Critical Questions

What are the aims of the fisheries management process and how clearly are they articulated?

How do the aims at different levels and across different agencies differ from each other?

How do different social, economic, environmental and political objectives conflict?

How are such conflicts resolved? What trade-offs are needed?

How can greater coherence between aims and objectives be achieved?