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


Ensure Institutional Coherence

Many fisheries are faced with multiple aims that are often conflicting and few mechanisms exist to facilitate trade-offs and choices. This potentially leads to a lack of policy coherence which confuses what fisheries management is trying to achieve. Even when there is some clarity of aim it may not be possible to predict how implementation of policies will pan out. Overfishing can be seen as a rational response to irrational policies (Dengbol, 2009).

Policy processes, legislative framework and governance structures have often developed in the past to reflect situations that no longer exist. BenstedSmith and Kirkman, (2010, 4) note that “[a]ccess rights, laws and institutional structures in some countries are outdated and do not reflect social and political realities, so that governance structures have inherent conflicts”. The historic evolution of the fishery and the forces at play within the political economy influence the way political decisions are made and the way fisheries managers at the national level have interpreted national policy. Much of the past emphasis of fisheries has been on productivity increases and many government departments are still staed by people with skills that reflect this focus, in agencies structured around productivity using top-down approaches.

There is also a need to ensure that institutional structures and processes are enshrined in law to avoid failure in political coherence when political parties or individuals change.

Informal discussions with key informants during the course of this review also emphasised the importance of this aspect both in terms of ensuring coherence between management efforts at the local level and the prevailing policy and legislative framework within which they are nested, and in terms of the need to evolve approaches that take account of changing political priorities over the course of long-term management initiatives.

Critical Questions

Given the complexity and multiple aims of many fisheries management processes, to what extent does institutional coherence at policy, legislative, planning, plan implementation and at different geographical levels exist?

What are the factors which support or undermine this coherence?

How coherent are fisheries sector aims and strategies with national development policies?

To what extent is there coherence with community level development aims and opportunities?