New research reveals that harnessing the power of local people to manage fisheries in the developing world “significantly benefited local communities and coral reefs.”
Typically, fisheries management in East Africa has followed the traditional top-down method, where the government makes decisions that the people follow. But in 2006, the Kenyan government implemented a pilot program to do just the opposite, giving communities the ability to develop and enforce their own fisheries regulations.
Researchers found that the strategies implemented by the communities benefited not only their fishery, but also the local corals, and the people’s livelihoods.
“A third of the people we surveyed said that their livelihoods had improved as a result of the new form of local management, and only about three percent of people felt it was bad for them,” lead author Professor Joshua Cinner from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University said in a news release.
The new approach to management also led to a big change in people’s attitude towards conservation — a particularly important factor considering that an attempt to create a marine park in Kenya in the 1990s resulted in violent protests. But as a result of this program, several local communities started to develop mini-marine reserves.
“It is a sea change from a decade ago,” said study co-author Dr. Tim McClanahan from the Wildlife Conservation Society. “I’ve been working on the Kenyan coast for over 30 years and even ten years ago, I would never have thought this possible.”
The researchers note that the success of this program doesn’t mean it will work everywhere. These communities, and others where community-based management programs might be implemented, will need continued support to be successful.
To learn more:
- Read the news release: A sea change for marine conservation.
- Read the abstract: A sea change on the African coast: Preliminary social and ecological outcomes of a governance transformation in Kenyan fisheries.
Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.