For the last four weeks, The hook has been focusing on key small-scale fisheries policy objectives, this week we take a look at what the policy says about co-management and the empowerment of small-scale fisheries.

Policy Objectives: To ensure that co-management empowers through education, training and skills development (ETSD)

The Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) Policy is a community based policy that has given rights to the small-scale fisheries community to have a shared responsibility with the government for the management of fishing activities. This shared responsibility is termed as co-management.

This is an alternative management style that moves away from having the state manage marine or community resources and moves towards a community based approach.

“… In accordance with the co-management approach, the Policy envisages, for example, that the community will become involved in the monitoring of stocks through catch-recording and the monitoring of access to the community fishing area” ( Young, 2013) .

The community will be involved in management functions such as, planning, organising, coordinating, commanding, and controlling. The fishing community will then have to have a set of skills that will help them to successfully manage the fishery.

ETSD are important factors in the empowerment, development, and sustainability of small-scale fishing sector.

  1. Young, 2013 further states that, “…the community must be capacitated and empowered through education and training in order to partake in the management regime in a meaningful manner and to implement those management functions that are devolved to the community as well as to build alternative livelihoods…”

As we are in the midst of implementing the small-scale fisheries policy, research of what skills a community needs to co-manage a fishery will have to be done. This will then inform implementers of the policy of what kind of education, training and skills development should the community or members receive.

In their paper, Co-management in small-scale fisheries – A synthesis of Southern and West African experiences, Sten Sverdrup-Jensen and Jesper Raakjær Nielsen state that:  “The incentives of fishers and other stakeholders to cooperate among themselves and with government in the management of those fisheries in which they are involved are of two types.

On the one hand the level of cooperation is determined by a number of key factors relating to the local politico-historical, biophysical, economic and socio-cultural environment of the fishing communities and the fisheries.

On the other, the incentives for cooperation are determined by the character of the decision-making arrangements in place for setting collective choice rules and, in particular, the operational rules for the fishery and thus the legitimacy of the arrangement in the eyes of the fishers”.

In support of the above statement, it is thus vital for the state to consider how co-management will function in each community, so that this approach will be able to really empower communities.


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