Co-management Challenges In The Lake Victoria Fisheries : A Context Approach

University dissertation from Stockholm : Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis

Abstract: This doctoral thesis examines the challenges to co-management in the Tanzania part of Lake Victoria. The study mainly addresses the Nile perch fishery and uses the fishing communities of Bukoba Rural district, Tanzania as a case study. Co-management in Lake Victoria is defined as the sharing of the management responsibilities between the state and the fishing communities. Co-management was adopted in the Lake Victoria fisheries on the understanding that it has the capacity to provide space in which the poor resource users could be empowered to sustainably manage their resource base. The assumption was that the sharing of the management responsibilities between the state and the community of users would have led to equity in resource access, poverty reduction and resource sustainability. Thus, reducing the role of the state and enhancing that of the communities was seen as a solution to the problems of poverty and illegal fishing that are threatening the sustainability of the fishery and the fishers dependent on it. However, in spite of these proclaimed efforts, illegal fishing and poverty in Lake Victoria remain major threats to the long-term sustainability of the fishery, a fact that is raising questions on the efficacy of co-management in Lake Victoria. These questions have particularly focused on the co-management model and the neo-liberal ideals that underlie it, namely decentralization, participation and accountability. The central argument in this thesis, however, is that co-management performance in Lake Victoria is to a large extent shaped by the complex international, national, and local context in which it is implemented and which in turn shapes the problems of poverty and illegal fishing that co-management is supposed to address. The study concludes that the international and national politics behind the Nile perch fishery intersect with the cultural and social context in which the fishery is embedded to shape co-management performance at the local level.For analysis, the study applies a multi-level approach and draws insights from the common pool resources theory, the actor-oriented approach, the entitlement framework, and the theory of the state. Detailed interviews across scale, secondary data, policy documents, and laws, supported by quantitative data are the methods applied.

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