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BenstedSmith and Kirkman, (2010, 4) note that “[a]ccess rights, laws and institutional structures in some countries are outdated and do not reflect social and political realities, so that governance structures have inherent conflicts”.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.