Navigating transformations in governance of Chilean marine coastal resources.
ABSTRACT Marine ecosystems are in decline. New transformational changes in governance are urgently required to cope with overfishing, pollution, global changes, and other drivers of degradation. Here we explore social, political, and ecological aspects of a transformation in governance of Chile's coastal marine resources, from 1980 to today. Critical elements in the initial preparatory phase of the transformation were (i) recognition of the depletion of resource stocks, (ii) scientific knowledge on the ecology and resilience of targeted species and their role in ecosystem dynamics, and (iii) demonstration-scale experimental trials, building on smaller-scale scientific experiments, which identified new management pathways. The trials improved cooperation among scientists and fishers, integrating knowledge and establishing trust. Political turbulence and resource stock collapse provided a window of opportunity that triggered the transformation, supported by new enabling legislation. Essential elements to navigate this transformation were the ability to network knowledge from the local level to influence the decision-making processes at the national level, and a preexisting social network of fishers that provided political leverage through a national confederation of artisanal fishing collectives. The resultant governance scheme includes a revolutionary national system of marine tenure that allocates user rights and responsibilities to fisher collectives. Although fine tuning is necessary to build resilience of this new regime, this transformation has improved the sustainability of the interconnected social-ecological system. Our analysis of how this transformation unfolded provides insights into how the Chilean system could be further developed and identifies generalized pathways for improved governance of marine resources around the world.
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: In an attempt to combine marine conservation and economic development, the Chilean government introduced a policy that gives formal property rights over defined areas of seabed to artisanal fishers. This study used discourse analysis to understand the impacts and consequences of this policy. Story lines based on sustainability, livelihood maintenance, and historical right claims are mechanisms by which three different groups of fishers adopted postures toward the policy and each other. These act as a means of legitimizing claims when adapting to conditions generated by the policy and also vindicate poaching between syndicates, thereby jeopardizing the whole system. Results show the fishing groups studied adopt the policy for different reasons than those espoused by government during its development. Discourse analysis assists the understanding of actors’ policy responses and provides an insightful tool to investigate incentives and dominance of particular sets of ideas in a comanagement framework.Society & Natural Resources - SOC NATUR RESOUR. 01/2005; 18(4):377-391.
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The ecological roles of humans in marine communities have been poorly studied. Humans have special characteristics, such as culture, and are perceived as complex ecological actors. Observations and experiments conducted in coastal (rocky intertidal and nearshore) 'no-take' areas or reserves in Chile and around the world have permitted a better understanding of the role played by humans as top predators and the resulting trophic-cascade effects along the food-webs. These studies have revealed an urgent need to incorporate humans into ecological studies and have helped to promote links between ecology and social sciences.Trends in Ecology & Evolution 08/1999; 14(7):280-283. · 15.39 Impact Factor
- Revista Chilena De Historia Natural - REV CHIL HIST NAT. 01/2010; 83(1).
Navigating transformations in governance of Chilean
marine coastal resources
Stefan Gelcicha, Terry P. Hughesb, Per Olssonc, Carl Folkec,d, Omar Defeoe, Miriam Fernándeza,f, Simon Foaleb,
Lance H. Gundersong, Carlos Rodríguez-Sickerth, Marten Schefferi, Robert S. Steneckj, and Juan C. Castillaa,f,1
aLaboratorio Internacional en Cambio Global (CSIC-PUC), Esporles 07190, Spain, and Departamento de Ecología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla
114-D,Chile;bAustralianResearchCouncilCentreofExcellence forCoralReefStudies, JamesCookUniversity,Queensland 4811,Australia;cStockholmResilience
Sweden;eFacultad de Ciencias, Montevideo 11400, Uruguay;fCenter of Advanced Studies in Ecology and Biodiversity, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia
Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 114-D, Chile;gEmory University, Atlanta, GA 30322;hEscuela de Administración, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile,
Casilla 114-D, Chile;iWageningen University, 6700 DD, Wageningen, The Netherlands; andjDarling Marine Center, University of Maine, Walpole, ME 04573
Contributed by Juan C. Castilla, August 16, 2010 (sent for review May 7, 2010)
Marine ecosystems are in decline. New transformational changes
in governance are urgently required to cope with overfishing,
pollution, global changes, and other drivers of degradation. Here
we explore social, political, and ecological aspects of a transfor-
mation in governance of Chile’s coastal marine resources, from
1980 to today. Critical elements in the initial preparatory phase
of the transformation were (i) recognition of the depletion of re-
source stocks, (ii) scientific knowledge on the ecology and resil-
ience of targeted species and their role in ecosystem dynamics,
and (iii) demonstration-scale experimental trials, building on
smaller-scale scientific experiments, which identified new man-
agement pathways. The trials improved cooperation among scien-
tists and fishers, integrating knowledge and establishing trust.
Political turbulence and resource stock collapse provided a window
of opportunity that triggered the transformation, supported by
new enabling legislation. Essential elements to navigate this
transformation were the ability to network knowledge from the
local level to influence the decision-making processes at the na-
tional level, and a preexisting social network of fishers that pro-
vided political leverage through a national confederation of
artisanal fishing collectives. The resultant governance scheme
includes a revolutionary national system of marine tenure that
allocates user rights and responsibilities to fisher collectives. Al-
though fine tuning is necessary to build resilience of this new re-
gime, this transformation has improved the sustainability of the
interconnected social–ecological system. Our analysis of how this
transformation unfolded provides insights into how the Chilean
system could be further developed and identifies generalized
pathways for improved governance of marine resources around
artisanal fishing|ecosystem services|human dimensions|social–ecological
systems|window of opportunity
creasing appreciation of the intimate coupling between ecosys-
tems and human well-being. This represents a fundamental
paradigm shift, from the traditional view of people as external
disrupters of otherwise pristine ecosystems, to a focus on the
dynamics of linked social–ecological systems (SES) (2, 3). Most
current approaches to governance and management of marine
ecosystems do not adequately link social and ecological pro-
cesses and have demonstrably failed to halt or reverse environ-
mental decline at a global scale (refs. 4 and 5; but see refs. 6 and
7). The reasons behind this failure are complex. Often gover-
nance is ineffective because of political impediments, missing or
dysfunctional institutions, weak environmental legislation, lack
of public support, inadequate enforcement, or poor monitoring
and evaluation systems (8). Typically, management of marine
systems focuses on a few exploited species in an attempt to de-
liver efficiency, reliability, and optimization of fisheries yields.
s the magnitude of human impacts on ecosystems continues
to grow and becomes more apparent (1), there is an in-
This approach ignores other critical species and processes that
sustain functioning ecosystems and is often incapable of dealing
with ecological thresholds and surprises (2, 3). Therefore, shifts
to new governance systems that support flexible, adaptive man-
agement approaches are urgently needed (2, 3).
Shifting from conventional management to new governance
understanding about critical conditions and the range of spatial
science recognize the need for fundamental change (9, 10) and
have recently offered empirically based insights into policy de-
the need to understand SES dynamics that facilitate shifts in gov-
ernance (11). Specifically, there is still a lack of understanding of
how to steer away from unsustainable development pathways
toward improved social–ecological trajectories that sustain and
enhance marine ecosystem services and human well-being (3).
Existing knowledge of transformation in governance is frag-
mented, and different disciplines have studied pieces of the
puzzle, but these have rarely been analyzed together in a broader
social–ecological context. Although many scientists argue for the
need to change institutions to move into new pathways, others
argue that whole societal regimes have to change to prompt
major shifts in governance (14). This literature recognizes that
transformation in governance requires more than mere in-
stitutional change. Rather they are systemic shifts that include
changes in management paradigms, regulatory frameworks, un-
derlying norms and values, knowledge production systems, eq-
uity, and power distribution (9, 15, 16).
To understand such processes we use the concept of path de-
pendence. A system is path dependent if future choices are
canalized by previous decisions into a particular pathway channel
and these constraints make it difficult to move forward in a dif-
ferent direction (17). Because of such stabilizing feedback
mechanisms, shifting into new pathways might be very difficult.
For example, in the United States and elsewhere marine zoning
and shifts to ecosystem-based management have been severely
constrained by inflexible institutions, limited public support, and
difficulties in developing acceptable legislation (8). Attempts and
initiatives to move toward place-based ecosystem management
often fail because there are mechanisms like peoples’ attitudes
and worldviews, economic incentives, power relations, and
institutions that do not facilitate such shifts.
Author contributions: S.G., T.P.H., P.O., C.F., O.D., M.F., S.F., L.H.G., C.R.-S., M.S., R.S.S., and
J.C.C. designed research; S.G., T.P.H., P.O., C.F., M.F., and J.C.C. performed research; S.G.,
T.P.H., P.O., C.F., O.D., M.F., and J.C.C. analyzed data; and S.G., T.P.H., P.O., C.F., O.D., S.F.,
L.H.G., C.R.-S., M.S., R.S.S., and J.C.C. wrote the paper.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: email@example.com.
| September 28, 2010
| vol. 107
| no. 39www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1012021107
Despite difficulties in changing trajectory, the literature rec-
ognizes that there are critical junctures from which policies and
governance move into new pathways (18). Studying the sequence
of events that leads to such junctures is of crucial importance for
understanding transformations in SES (19). Such shifts are often
multilevel and multiphase processes that involve incremental as
well as abrupt change. Transformation is about shifting to
a fundamentally new SES when ecological, economic, or social
structures make the existing system untenable. Recent studies
suggest that transformations consist of three phases: (i) pre-
paring for transformation, (ii) navigating the transition, and (iii)
building resilience of the new governance regime. Phase 1 is
often protracted until a window of opportunity allows pro-
gression to phases 2 and 3 (20–22). Important factors for
accomplishing transformations include innovation and strategies
developed by key players. Using the three-phase model to guide
our analysis, in this article we focus on the conditions under
which governance transformations have been possible in the
management of Chilean artisanal coastal fisheries. We analyze
the role that local ecosystem and management experiments,
cross-level interactions, and socio-political context played in
shifting from an open-access governance regime to a user-right,
space-based zoned regime. By synthesizing information on the
key processes involved, our goal is to establish a better un-
derstanding of the foundations for navigating successful trans-
formations in marine SES more broadly.
Fishery Governance Transformation in Chile
A change in Chile’s national government to a democracy in 1990,
after 17 y of a dictatorship, provided a window of opportunity for
policy innovation (23). Furthermore, recognition of stock col-
lapse, social processes including learning and communication
about ecosystem dynamics between fishers and scientists, and
strong social networks (which had been latent for 17 y) provided
critical elements for a governance transformation. In 1991 new
fishery legislation was passed in Chile. The 1991 Fishery and
Aquaculture Law No. 18 892 (FAL), drastically reformed the
right to fish within and between the industrial and artisanal
fishing sectors. The FAL regulated mobility of the fleets through
zoning, allocated exclusive territorial users rights for fisheries
(TURFs), and introduced a differential individual transferable
quota for fully exploited species (23, 24). This legislation enabled
a national-scale transformation in governance toward a more
sustainable pathway, particularly for the socially and economi-
cally important artisanal sector (15, 23). However, achieving this
transformation was more complex than simply changing legisla-
tion or introducing new restrictions on resource use.
In Chile, under the terms of FAL, an artisanal fisher must be
officially registered by the National Fisheries Service. Artisanal
vessels must not exceed 18 m in length and 50 gross register tons
(23). Larger vessels are considered industrial fleet. Artisanal
fishers in Chile can be divided into two groups. The first, small-
scale artisanals, is composed of divers, inshore fin-fishers, and
coastal gatherers. They supply reef-fish, inshore fin-fish, benthic
invertebrates, and algae. This group mainly operates from
deckless boats (<10 m in length), using diving gear (hookah or
free diving) or without boats in the case of intertidal and shallow
subtidal gathers. Between 2005 and 2008, ca. 32,000 small-scale
artisanals extracted ca. 295,000 tons y−1of benthic resources
(excluding algae), worth ca. $US 250 million y−1(25). The sec-
ond group, midscale artisanals, comprises fin-fishers using boats
of up to 18 m, mainly targeting high-value fin-fish and small-
pelagic species (23). In 2005–2008 they extracted between 1.50
and 1.84 million tons y−1. In 2008 they landed ca. 1 million tons
of small-bodied pelagic species (anchovy, sardine, mackerel),
approximately 43% of the total small-pelagic species landed in
Chile, with a value of ca. $US 222 million (25).
The FAL provided formal recognition of artisanal fishers and
incorporated two new regulations that established user rights.
First, artisanal fishers were assigned exclusive fishery access rights
(toallspecies)withinazonethatextends 5nautical miles(9.3km)
from the shoreline along ca. 2,500 km of coast (18°36′–41°27′ S)
to reduce conflict, especially between midscale artisanals and the
industrial fleet. Second, the FAL assigned TURFs over inshore
areas of seabed to registered artisanal fisher associations (unions,
term Management and Exploitation Areas for Benthic Resources
(MEABR). This regulation targets small-scale artisanals (Fig. 1)
as a response to overexploitation of benthic fisheries (15).
Fisheries. The MEABR policy is the most innovative and trans-
formative management instrument of the FAL (26). It regulates
small-scale artisanal benthic fisheries, which harvest more than 60
different species of invertebrates and algae. The gastropod Loco
keyhole limpets (Fissurella spp.), and algae (e.g., Lessonia trabe-
culata) are the most important in terms of landing and income.
Speciesare mostlyharvested through hookahdiving, within15–25
km from base ports, from depths of less than 25–30 m (26).
The Loco, historically the most economically important
shellfish in Chile, and its collapse in the late 1980s served as
a major trigger for governance transformation. Before its col-
lapse, the Loco fishery operated under an open access regime,
fishers had no incentives to cooperate, and short-term in-
dividualism prevailed. Until 1974 the Loco fishery was charac-
terized by landings of ≈2,000–6,000 tons y−1, used mainly for
domestic consumption. In 1973–1974, shortly after a military
coup, Chile adopted a neoliberal policy framework. This to-
gether with the implementation of an aggressive exchange rate
policy substantially improved fishing export earnings (27). As
export markets grew, artisanal fishers intensified their mobility
o i t a t i o l px
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scale. Roman numerals indicate administrative regions.
Schematic representation of fisheries zoning in Chile. Map is not to
Gelcich et al.PNAS
| September 28, 2010
| vol. 107
| no. 39
along the coast to take advantage of the new opportunities. More
than 15,000 Loco divers moved around Chile, increasing landings
but sparking conflicts between locals and outsiders. Landings of
Loco declined between 1980 and 1988 (Fig. 2), almost certainly
owing to overexploitation, precipitating a series of management
steps that attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent clandestine
catches and smuggling (28, 29). The Loco fishery was a path-
dependent system, trapped in an undesirable state that finally
collapsed, resulting in a closure from 1989 to 1992 (Fig. 2). The
fishery only reopened after a legislative window of opportunity,
when democracy returned to Chile (Fig. 2).
A key starting point, which prepared for the governance
transformation associated with the MEABR policy, was an in-
creased understanding of basic ecological concepts pertaining to
the role of fishers in structuring marine ecosystems in Chile. This
information came initially from two small experimental no-take
coastal reserves, administered by universities, in central (Las
Cruces; 5 ha) and southern (Mehuín; 10 ha) Chile. Research at
these reserves (1981–1988) showed that humans controlled the
abundance of intertidal and shallow subtidal Loco populations,
which in turn determined the species composition of the in-
tertidal communities (30). When Loco is absent, the ecosystem
shifts to a mussel-dominated intertidal seascape, which has little
or no economic value. Consequently, human harvesting is a key
driver of intertidal and shallow subtidal ecosystem dynamics
(Fig. 3) (30, 31). In addition, research showed that when har-
vesting was experimentally curtailed, benthic resources, such as
Loco, sea urchins, keyhole limpets, and algae, could be restored
via “natural seeding” over a period of 3–5 y (31, 32). The en-
hanced understanding of the role of fishers in these linked SES
came at a time when artisanal fishers were acutely concerned
about the depletion and recovery prospects of several key ben-
thic resources. It created the opportunity for scientists and
existing fisher associations to exchange information and develop
participatory research at a larger scale, encompassing specific
fishing coves, or “caletas” (33). Such collaboration involved the
implementation of experimental MEABR undertaken jointly by
marine ecologists and artisanal fisher associations christened as
“natural shellfish restocking via rotational exploited areas” (30).
To experimentally track the recovery of stocks, fishing was vol-
untarily suspended in these trials years before MEABRs became
a legal management tool.
The first pilot management and exploitation experimental area
(ca. 52 ha) was implemented in 1989, after an agreement be-
tween scientists from Las Cruces Research Station and the fisher
association of Quintay, under a special government decree (D.S.
203, 1991) and funded by the Chilean National Fund for Re-
search and Technology (Grant Fondecyt no. 3503-89). Two other
“caletas” followed. Within these experimental areas, fishers and
scientists engaged in research that led to a learning process about
stock recovery times, ecosystem dynamics, and wider ecosystem
responses to management and protection (34). Importantly,
catch per unit effort and mean size of economically important
resources such as Loco increased, whereas searching and trav-
eling time by divers were significantly reduced within the
restocking areas (33). These pilot experiences constituted a set of
critical learning platforms, which generated new knowledge and
practices and helped to develop a shared vision of local fisher
associations having exclusive rights and responsibilities to col-
lectively manage local benthic resources.
This shared vision became a dominant discourse among fishers
involved in the trials (15). At the same time, artisanal fishers in
Chile were in the process of reorganizing into a single national
confederation or metaorganization that grouped all artisanal
fisher associations. This confederation was in effect a “shadow
network” that had been suppressed by the dictatorial regime for
the preceding 16 y (1973–1989). The confederation became
a significant national player because it had grassroots support.
This social reorganization provided the necessary political le-
verage to successfully navigate the major shifts in governance
that included the new FAL legislative framework in 1991.
The governance transformation did not end after legislation
granting TURFs had been constituted. A transition phase in
which the details as to how marine tenure was going to be al-
located to fishers was negotiated in lengthy debates among
fishers, managers, scientists, and politicians (35). This was im-
mersed in bureaucratic indecision and power struggles, until 1997
when decrees for regulating fishers’ duties and responsibilities in
MEABRs were approved (36). Between the publication of the
FAL in 1991 and MEABR implementation in 1997, Chile exper-
imented with a national Loco quota, which was costly to ad-
minister and easily circumvented by individual divers. During
these transitional years, fisher associations that wished to engage
with the emerging MEABR policy could only do so on an in-
formal basis, supported by teams of university-linked biologists
(26, 28). The first area to be granted officially under the new
MEABR system was decreed in 1997. Key stewards in the Un-
dersecretary of Fishery, jointly with the national confederation
of fishers and support of the marine scientific community, had
finally navigated the transition toward legal MEABR implemen-
tation (Fig. 2). Importantly, the MEABR policy is not compul-
sory. MEABR regulations require the payment of rent for the
Landing (metric tons * 103)
Price (US$ per ton exported * 103)
no i t arape
Window of opportunity
n i d l i uB
cne i l i seesaer
n i t a
o i t i sn
g i va
no i t amrof snarTecnanrevoG
coup, (B) democratic elections, (C) FAL implementation, and (D) first legal MEABR. Background colors represent different phases of the governance trans-
formation. Overlap between phases is not represented.
Loco landings (black circles), 1968–2008. Loco price is represented on the secondary axis (white circles). Arrows represent the timing of (A) military
| www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1012021107 Gelcich et al.
exclusive use of benthic resources and the provision of an initial
baseline study and a management plan. For each harvested area,
annual monitoring must be performed by universities or regis-
tered consultants. On the basis of the monitored condition of
stocks within each MEABR, total allowable catches are granted
for a set of species that are harvested each year. Other species
cannot be taken from the area.
The governance transformation represented by the MEABR
policy improved the trajectory and dynamics of Chile’s benthic
coastal SES. Resources harvested from MEABR areas are typ-
ically capped at 15–25% of the annually assessed stocks. Fishers
can now better schedule their harvesting period to capitalize on
market fluctuations and to allow stocks to mature. In many cases,
harvesting can now be completed in a few weeks, allowing fishers
the option of diversifying their incomes from other types of
employment. Official landing statistics of the most important
species, the Loco, have stabilized at the levels before the opening
of foreign markets. In addition, official reports show that both
the prices and the value of landings have increased (Fig. 2).
Although the MEABR policy was implemented primarily for the
management of Loco, currently there are a total of approxi-
mately 45 different benthic species included in management
plans for MEABR areas in Chile (34).
The fishery success of the MEABR policy includes a signifi-
cant increase in abundance and individual size of targeted
resources within MEABR areas, in comparison with open-access
sites that continue to be heavily harvested by fishers (37, 38).
Furthermore, MEABR areas also afford substantial benefits for
biodiversity conservation, because they are effective no-take
areas for all species other than the handful (generally two to five)
chosen each year for harvesting (38). Moreover, the perceptions
and environmental awareness of fishers who have engaged with
the MEABR policy has changed markedly (36, 39), with evi-
dence of fishers themselves becoming environmental stewards
(40). The new governance system created the conditions for the
fisher communities to replace the role of an external authority,
creating their own institutions. They established local rules for
the extraction of the common pool resources and developed
a surveillance system to curtail poaching within MEABR areas
(although poaching is still one of the major management prob-
lems that must be addressed). Currently in Chile there are 707
MEABR areas decreed to fisher organizations (Fig. 1). These
account for more than 1,100 km2of the nearshore seascape, with
a distance between them of 4–10 km (41), thus generating im-
portant connectivity among MEABRs.
It is important to state that the radical transformation asso-
ciated with MEABR brings new challenges for the governance of
the small-scale artisanal sector. Open-access diving grounds have
become scarce and overexploited (35), affecting the livelihoods
of divers who are not associated with MEABR areas (15, 40).
The responsibilities and costs associated with surveillance for
preventing poaching have increased, and variability in financial
returns is becoming evident (40). Illegal fishing (35, 42) has in-
creased conflict and eroded trust (40), and the power relations of
different players have changed (15). However, there is no formal
mechanism for the periodic review and adjustment of the system
(35). These problems require fine-tuning of the policy, which
may take many years to accomplish, to build resilience of the new
regime (15, 40, 42).
Middle-Scale Artisanal Fishery Governance Transformations. Thenew
fishery governance arrangements also established space-based
zoning affecting the “midscale artisanal fishery” along the richest
upwelling waters and productive Chilean coastal areas (Fig. 1). In
essence, a 5-nautical-mile exclusive access zone was granted to
artisanal fisheries, and a pseudo-individual transferable catch
quota system was implemented for fully exploited species (mainly
for small-pelagic species). This quota is nontransferable between
industrial and artisanal fleets (23). These regulations controlling
fishing rights have led to a continuous and sustained increase in
landings by the midscale artisanal fleet from ca. 200,000 tons in
1991 to 1.84 million tons in 2008. In turn, the industrial fishery
tons in 2008. Additionally in Chile, between 1997 and 2006 the
industrial purse seine vessel holding capacity has decreased by
≈50%. In summary, the 1991 Chilean fishery governance reforms
and innovative management tools seem to have counteracted the
overexploitation of fish that is characteristic of common pool
resources in open-access systems (23).
m e t s y sl ac i go l oc e - l a i co se l bar i s eds s eLme t s y s
c i go l oc e - l a i co se l bar i s ede ro
2 20 00 03 3
1 19 98 81 1
1 19 97 76 6
2 20 00 09 9
A, because of human overharvesting of Loco, the rocky intertidal environment is dominated by mussels. In C (same site 20 y later), because of human ex-
clusion, populations of Loco are persistent in the ecosystem, which has shifted toward one dominated by barnacles, algae, and bare rock (50). In B, the
individualistic short-term behavior of fishers is represented in an open-access regime: red arrows show individual Loco harvests. In D, a collective management
approach, associated with MEABR policy, is represented by all fishers sharing the Loco harvest.
Alternative SES states. (A and B) SES under open-access regimes. (C and D) SES after governance transformation, under a user rights MEABR system. In
Gelcich et al.PNAS
| September 28, 2010
| vol. 107
| no. 39
Transdisciplinary studies of transformations for improved systems
of governance in the management of natural resources are not
changes in governance are typically small and incremental. Inves-
Helgeå River catchment in southern Sweden (21), share a number
of key insights, together with the Chilean case, on how these shifts
a different, potentially more beneficial system (22). This study
illustrates how a window of opportunity for change can emerge
when current policies fail. In Chile, the collapse of stocks and
a change in government provided this opportunity for rapid policy
innovation. Such reform did not occur in a vacuum; rather, it built
on existing strengths, social structures, local and scientific knowl-
edge, and skills that recombined for new innovative solutions. This
required the identification of dysfunctional states and alternative
pathways.Importantly, thetransformationwas not completed once
the new fisheries policy was implemented. The needs to navigate
a transition phase toward a sustainable pathway and to keep
building resilience of thenew systemareshown to becriticalissues.
The Chilean case supports the utility of the three-phase model
(preparation, transition, and building resilience of the new regime)
linked by a window of opportunity. It represents a transformation
from an undesirable path-dependent system to more favorable
trajectories and provides empirical insights on critical factors of
specific phases (Fig. 2).
Critical elements that allowed preparing for the transfor-
mation were (i) recognition of the depletion of resource stocks,
(ii) new scientific knowledge on the ecology and resilience of
targeted stocks and their role in ecosystem dynamics, and (iii)
demonstration-scale experimental trials, building on smaller-
scale scientific experiments. The Chilean experience illustrates
the importance of identifying new pathways or alternative states
for an effective transformation. The experiments carried out by
scientists and local fishers generated the necessary knowledge to
develop this new pathway for the management of coastal SES
(26). The three initial experimental/pilot sites where fishers and
scientist collaborated constituted important learning platforms
from which the new management approaches could be tested at
an appropriate spatial and temporal scale (26, 33). The de-
velopment of a communication network between researchers
and the emerging confederation of artisanal fishers was crucial
to create the technical and political support for a transformation
in governance that incorporated new information and un-
derstanding of ecosystem dynamics.
Importantly, the Chilean case helps identify enabling factors
for going from one phase to the next. Political turbulence and
resource stock collapse provided a window of opportunity that
triggered the transformation, allowing the consolidation of en-
abling legislation. Critical elements to further navigate this
transformation were the ability to communicate new knowledge
from the experiments by harnessing a preexisting social network
of fishers. In particular, the reemerged fisher confederation
provided the capacity and political leverage to link the initiative
of the three pilot trials to change institutions at the national
level. Members of the confederation of artisanal fishers acted as
institutional entrepreneurs (19) and facilitated the cross-scale
and the cross-organizational interactions that were required to
transform the social–ecological regime (22). In effect, the con-
federation of fishers represented a bridging organization (45)
that could enhance vertical integration from local to national
levels among different players.
The existence of social mechanisms for transformability, such
as those identified in this article, are key for moving toward
a social–ecological trajectory with the capacity to manage eco-
systems sustainably for human well-being. However, the resource
management task is not over once a policy is implemented. It is
essential to build resilience and adaptability of the new system
(46). In Chile, the achievement of the MEABR management
regime has been seen as an end point, and consequently colearn-
ing processes have been weakened, with negative consequences
for the system and individual fishers. The Chilean system still
needs to develop incentives for fisher associations to continu-
ously experiment and foster values of stewardship (36). At pres-
ent the Chilean MEABR policy has left few legal options for
fishers to undertake experiments as the basis for future adapta-
tions or transformations (45, 47). This is unfortunate, because
mechanisms for colearning need to continue evolving to deal
with change (48, 49).
Building resilience of the new regime is an ongoing task. In-
deed, current collaborations between researchers and fishers
may be an unrecognized phase in which the system is preparing
for a new transformation. For example, new collaborative re-
search on the role of MEABRs as biodiversity offsets (38) and
fisher-managed marine protected areas (40) might be providing
basic elements of future plausible alternative states. Only with
a historical perspective will we know whether these initiatives are
building resilience of the existing system or preparing for a new
transformation in governance.
In Chile, a transformation in governance reorganized the
fishing rights of individuals, communities, and fleets. Different
social processes were needed to achieve the current management
arrangements, and it is encouraging to see that the Chilean FAL
has helped to ameliorate overexploitation (23, 24, 36, 42).
However, the increased dialogue between resource users, aca-
demics, and policy makers decreased after policy implementa-
tion. We urgently advocate for the need to reinforce dialogue to
prepare for the future. As we have seen, governance trans-
formations toward improved pathways are ongoing processes
that involve a preparation phase. Elements of this phase, al-
though very hard to anticipate, will involve identifying dysfunc-
tional states, alternative pathways, change agents, and strategies
for overcoming social and ecological coastal problems.
Our analysis of evolving systems of governance for coastal ma-
rine resources in Chile reveals several general conclusions that
may act as lessons for the future. A common theme with other
studies on transformations (19, 21, 22, 44) is how new knowledge
is developed and built into novel governance systems for man-
aging ecosystem services and how the ideas and practices de-
veloped in shadow networks were connected to political leader-
ship to create a governance transformation. In addition, trans-
formational change is most likely to occur when a window of
opportunity for change arises and when stakeholders agree that
the current system is dysfunctional. Further research to under-
stand critical elements in guiding transformations toward im-
proved stewardship of marine ecosystem services will help pre-
pare and recognize windows of opportunity (22). This is an
imperative issue, considering the current global marine resource
crisis and the difficulties in implementing new governance
models to tackle future global social–ecological changes.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We thank many friends, colleagues, research assis-
tants, fishers, managers, and local officials for making possible the gov-
ernance transformation and successive events that have taken place in Chile.
Funding was provided by Fondo de Financiamiento de Centros de Excelencia
en Investigacion (FONDAP) 1501-0001, the
Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, The Mellon Foundation, an Italy–Chile co-
operation grant, Laboratorio Internacional en Cambio Global (CSIC-PUC) and
Fondo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (FONDECYT) Project nos. 3503-89
and 11070034. This article is an output from the Santa Rita meeting held in
Chile and funded by the Australian Research Council.
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| September 28, 2010
| vol. 107
| no. 39