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Comparative Analysis of Fishery Management Systems

March 26, 2012

It’s pretty unusual to see a comparative analysis of fishery management systems across countries.  And I’ve often shared my frustration with colleagues. We really have a poor idea of what makes fishery management systems work.  That is, how do we get rules that are not only appropriate, but which also are complied with.

Because of this, I was very pleased to read a 2011 article by Gezelius and Hauck in the Law and Society Review.  The piece is titled “Toward a Theory of Compliance in State-Regulated Livelihoods: A Comparative Study of Compliance Motivations in Developed and Developing World Fisheries.”

The authors compared fisheries in Norway, Canada, and South Africa and found three motivations for fishermen to comply: deterrence, moral support for the law’s content, and the legislator’s authority.

The authors came to understand that if fishery management systems and the larger political systems that they are a part of do not incentivize these motivations, then there will be poor compliance.  Importantly, to the extent that developing countries’ political systems are weak, fisheries management in these countries will have to make up for it.  That is, the standard methods of fisheries management in developed countries will be insufficient elsewhere.

In the authors’ own words:

This article argues that the compliance discourse in a state must be framed such that it includes at least the governable preconditions for compliance that have not been met in that state. It argues that failing to include these preconditions may lead to ineffective or destructive law implementation in state-regulated livelihoods. This argument implies that a functional compliance discourse would vary between different types of states and, consequently, that states in the developing world should be cautious about  adopting the developed world’s  deterrence-oriented compliance  discourses.  To  some  extent,  this  study  thus  bridges compliance motivation theory and institutional development theory.  By  exploring  compliance  motivations’  institutional  foundations,   this   study   adds   to   development   theory   that   regards institutions for state-society communication and, thereby, citizens’ empowerment as crucial to increasing the governing capacities of developing states.

And on the problem of exporting western fisheries management models:

The development of fisheries management systems in the industrialized world largely emerged in response to rapid development in the overall economy that greatly reduced poverty. By the time noncompliance entered the agenda of fishery resource conservation,  populations  in  the  industrialized  world  had  generally achieved high levels of material welfare and security thanks to de- cades of economic growth facilitated by state policies and the de- velopment of public welfare systems. People in most North Atlantic coastal states had for a number of years significantly influenced state policies through a variety of institutions for political partic- ipation.  Hence,  the  basic  questions  of  human  welfare  and  the legitimacy of the state had largely been dealt with on a national scale, meaning that fisheries regulations were seldom experienced as  conflicting  with  human  rights.  Consequently,  deterrence-oriented law enforcement largely emerged as an acceptable and even appropriate compliance strategy…

The enforcement perspective implies that fishers’ acts of noncompliance be targeted as the fundamental evil to be counteracted, and that such counteraction can be done effectively by influencing the fishers’ assessments of personal costs, risks, and benefits. Managers and decision  makers  have  generally  not  considered  deeper  causes  and values, such as fishers’ basic needs, perceived rights, and identification with the state, as appropriate aspects of the fisheries compliance discourse…Fisheries law implementation can thus be seen as a case of developed states ‘‘exporting’’ governance solutions to the developing world, a policy that could lead to unfortunate consequences unless pursued with proper awareness of the conditions that make these solutions work.

The authors’ case studies offer some really interesting pictures of fisheries with varying degrees of deterrence, moral support for the law’s content, and the legislator’s authority. For example, in a small coastal town in Norway, the authors found that though fishermen did not agree with their fisheries managers, they complied because it would be worse to be perceived as a ‘law breaker’.

Emerging out of the case studies, the author’s found three ‘governable preconditions’ can induce the three compliance motivations: enforcement, empowerment, and civic identity.

Enforcement refers to the state’s regular use of surveillance, control,   and   penalty   in   order   to   prevent   and   respond   to noncompliance.  Empowerment  refers  to  the  existence of  institutions  that  guarantee  that  the  power  of  those  affected by management decisions is great enough to ensure that those decisions promote rather than violate their basic needs and perceived   fundamental   rights.  And  civic identity means not only that people are empowered  through  citizens’  rights  to  participate  and  thus  are  acknowledged  as  proper  state  members  (citizenship),  but  also  that membership in the state has become part of people’s conception of self their social identity.

Particularly in developing countries, fishermen may be marginalized in fisheries decision-making and may perceive the decision-makers are not part of their community.  The authors’ gave a great example of this with their case study on South Africa, where non-compliance with fisheries laws is rampant:

Fishers in all the case study sites have argued vehemently for more equitable participation in decisions that affect them. An important part of this picture is that, unlike the governing systems of Norway and Canada, the young South African democracy has yet to produce coherent public welfare systems that effectively protect  fishers  from  severe  economic  consequences  of  management decisions. This lack of an adequate welfare system increases the perceived need among fishers for direct influence on decisions regarding their resource harvesting rights…

Whereas  Norwegian  and  Newfoundland  fishers  have  been organized at a national level for several decades, no such cohesive organization has existed for South African fishers. Unlike the state- supported organization process in Norway, early South African at- tempts to organize small-scale fishers aimed to fight the state and its apartheid system, although without producing lasting organizat- ions. No national association currently exists to represent the in- terests of small-scale fishers, and many small-scale fisheries are not organized at all…

The strong civic identity described in the Norwegian case is largely absent in South Africa. As Bentley andHabib  (2008:8) state,  ‘‘Identity  in  South Africa  is a  complicated matter.’’ They argue that in one decade, the country has moved from a complex legal system of racism to a constitutional democ- racy, but this transition has been embedded in social, political, and economic inequality…some assessments have argued that democratic economic policies have in fact exacerbated inequalities and poverty,  and some fishers have perceived that they are worse off than before.

Meanwhile, in a developed country like Norway, you might have a good degree of empowerment through a powerful fishers union – the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association (NFA).  And the civic identity is incredibly strong; citizenship is considered a core marker of individual identity.

As a result, to have a successful fisheries management system in a developing country, it may well be necessary to promote not only enforcement measures, but also institution-building. The authors suggest a strategy for situations where this is necessary:

The first step would be to promote  the  construction  of  civil  society  organizations  that  are capable of representing the people affected by regulations and of voicing their needs and perceptions. Critically important is that all legitimate interests have proper representation.

The second step would  be  to  construct  institutions  for  interaction  between  these organizations and the state. Such interaction should include participation in formulating regulations. It should also include nego- tiation  and  arbitration  between  conflicting  interests.  In  settings where limited administrative and organizing capacities prevent effective institution-building on national levels, local resource management  could  be  a  functional  place  to  begin  a  process  toward citizens’  empowerment.

The third step would be to construct systems capable of enforcing  regulations  in  a  manner  that,  according  to  feedback received from organized citizens, is perceived as credible and fair by those affected.

The final step would be to further promote the long-term construction of civic identity – a process that has already begun with the previous three steps – by using democratic institutions as a basis for nation-building.

While that fourth step of ‘democratizing’ the state would be very hard for fisheries managers and conservationists, the first three seem quite do-able.

Gezelius, S., & Hauck, M. (2011). Toward a Theory of Compliance in State-Regulated Livelihoods: A Comparative Study of Compliance Motivations in Developed and Developing World Fisheries Law & Society Review, 45 (2), 435-470 DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5893.2011.00436.x

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