Large Marine Ecosystem Governance Presentations at Woodrow Wilson Center

Large Marine Ecosystem Governance Presentations atWoodrow

Governance of Marine Ecosystem-BasedManagement: A Comparative Analysis
September 29, 2008 : 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Nygiel B. Armada, Fisheries Management Advisor, FisheriesImproved for Sustainable Harvests (FISH) Project, Tetra Tech
Patrick Christie, Assistant Professor, School of MarineAffairs and Jackson School of International Studies, University ofWashington
Robin Mahon, Professor ofMarine Affairs and Director of the Centre for Resource Management andEnvironmental Studies (CERMES), University of the West Indies,Barbados
Alan White, Senior Scientist, Global Marine Initiative,The Nature Conservancy

“Frequently, we forget that environmental management is all aboutinstitutions and governance, and the decisions and trade-offs that wemake,” said the University of Washington’s Patrick Christie at”Governance of Marine Ecosystem-Based Management: A ComparativeAnalysis,” a September 29, 2008, event sponsored by the WilsonCenter’s Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP). “And ofcourse they need to be informed by ecological principles as well. Butwhen it comes down to it, you’re managing individuals, institutions,[and] budgets.” Christie believes that as more and more marinespecies move dangerously close to extinction-whether fromoverfishing, pollution, or habitat destruction-ecosystem-basedmanagement (EBM), which governs ecosystems according to ecologicalrather than political boundaries, offers the best approach to marineconservation. This meeting was the final event in ECSP’s “Fishingfor a Secure Future” series.

Decentralizing EBM

For Alan White of The Nature Conservancy, the Coastal ResourceManagement Project (CRMP), initiated by the U.S. Agency forInternational Development in 1996, exemplifies EBM’s success.Working in 111 coastal municipalities in the Philippines and coveringapproximately one-sixth of the country’s coastline, CRMP helpedmanagers of municipal fisheries and marine protected areas (MPAs)collaborate with coastal law enforcement agencies to restore fishpopulations. EBM can be achieved, argued White, by allowing localmunicipalities to control simple regulatory schemes-so long as theyare simultaneously sharing information with larger-scale networks.However, “the local governments have to be the ones to pay for this;they can’t be dependent on foreign donor projects or even largeNGOs. It’s got to be sustained through the mechanism of governanceand governments in those areas,” he said.

The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) regional action plan, drafted bythe CTI’s six members-Indonesia, East Timor, the Philippines,Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands-is designed tomake ecosystem-based fisheries management “more mainstream in theregion,” said White. Among the many factors decreasing fishpopulations in the region are illegal and commercial fishing, chemicalpoisoning, industrial pollution, coral bleaching, typhoons, andaquarium fishing, he noted, and to effectively address these problems,local municipalities and larger-scale actors must coordinate theirstrategies.

Curbing Illegal Fishing in the Philippines

Tetra Tech’s Nygiel Armada explained that the Fisheries Improved forSustainable Harvests (FISH) Project in the Philippines’ Danajon Bankecosystem demonstrates how improving control mechanisms can combatillegal and commercial fishers’ activities. The FISH Project focuseson improving control mechanisms, including the network of MPAs;species-specific management; gear restrictions; size limits on fish;registration and licensing; and zoning of fishing and wateractivities. Strengthening these mechanisms and combining them withcross-cutting initiatives such as information, education, andcommunication campaigns; better policies; and collaboration with lawenforcement agencies led to more fish.

“Governance is only as strong as your weakest link,” emphasizedArmada. The weakest municipalities-those that allowed illegalfishing practices to continue and failed to enforce controlmechanisms-weakened overall gains. To sustain fish stocks andimprove governance, all localities must work together to enforcecontrol mechanisms.

Marine Governance, Large and Small

“As scale increases, and complexity increases, and control andpotential for coordination become less feasible, there’s really [a]need to pay increasing attention to the context within whichgovernance is taking place,” maintained Robin Mahon of theUniversity of the West Indies, who studies the Caribbean large marineecosystem. As Mahon argued, “policy cycles at all levels areimportant because different types of decisions take place at eachlevel.”

By Will Rogers
Edited by Rachel Weisshaar

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About Bruce

Work for sustainable development of small islands; ex-Peace Corps (Volunteer and staff) in LA & Caribbean; cruised Caribbean on S/Y Meander for three years; like small tropical islands, French canals, Umbria, Tasmania, and NZ. Married 50 years. Former President (1995 to 2016) of Island Resources Foundation.
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