Pretty good governance: balancing policy drivers and stakeholder interests in developing fisheries ecosystem plans

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Fitzpatrick, Thomas Michael
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University College Cork
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The central research question that this thesis addresses is whether there is a significant gap between fishery stakeholder values and the principles and policy goals implicit in an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM). The implications of such a gap for fisheries governance are explored. Furthermore an assessment is made of what may be practically achievable in the implementation of an EAFM in fisheries in general and in a case study fishery in particular. The research was mainly focused on a particular case study, the Celtic Sea Herring fishery and its management committee, the Celtic Sea Herring Management Advisory Committee (CSHMAC). The Celtic Sea Herring fishery exhibits many aspects of an EAFM and the fish stock has successfully recovered to healthy levels in the past 5 years. However there are increasing levels of governance related conflict within the fishery which threaten the future sustainability of the stock. Previous research on EAFM governance has tended to focus either on higher levels of EAFM governance or on individual behaviour but very little research has attempted to link the two spheres or explore the relationship between them. Two main themes within this study aimed to address this gap. The first was what role governance could play in facilitating EAFM implementation. The second theme concerned the degree of convergence between high-level EAFM goals and stakeholder values. The first method applied was governance benchmarking to analyse systemic risks to EAFM implementation. This found that there are no real EU or national level policies which provide stakeholders or managers with clear targets for EAFM implementation. The second method applied was the use of cognitive mapping to explore stakeholders understandings of the main ecological, economic and institutional driving forces in the Celtic Sea Herring fishery. The main finding from this was that a long-term outlook can and has been incentivised through a combination of policy drivers and participatory management. However the fundamental principle of EAFM, accounting for ecosystem linkages rather than target stocks was not reflected in stakeholders cognitive maps. This was confirmed in a prioritisation of stakeholders management priorities using Analytic Hierarchy Process which found that the overriding concern is for protection of target stock status but that wider ecosystem health was not a priority for most management participants. The conclusion reached is that moving to sustainable fisheries may be a more complex process than envisioned in much of the literature and may consist of two phases. The first phase is a transition to a long-term but still target stock focused approach. This achievable transition is mainly a strategic change, which can be incentivised by policies and supported by stakeholders. In the Celtic Sea Herring fishery, and an increasing number of global and European fisheries, such transitions have contributed to successful stock recoveries. The second phase however, implementation of an ecosystem approach, may present a greater challenge in terms of governability, as this research highlights some fundamental conflicts between stakeholder perceptions and values and those inherent in an EAFM. This phase may involve the setting aside of fish for non-valued ecosystem elements and will require either a pronounced mind-set and value change or some strong top-down policy incentives in order to succeed. Fisheries governance frameworks will need to carefully explore the most effective balance between such endogenous and exogenous solutions. This finding of low prioritisation of wider ecosystem elements has implications for rights based management within an ecosystem approach, regardless of whether those rights are individual or collective.
Fisheries governance , Cognitive mapping , Co-management
Fitzpatrick, T.M. 2013. Pretty good governance: balancing policy drivers and stakeholder interests in developing fisheries ecosystem plans. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.