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Assessing the governability of capture fisheries in the Bay of Bengal - a conceptual enquiry

e Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies vol. 7, no. 1, 2008
e Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies, ISSN 1602-2297
Assessing the Governability of Capture
Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal
– A Conceptual Enquiry
Maarten Bavinck, Director (Corresponding author)
Department of Human Geography, Planning, and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam,
e Netherlands,
Venkatesh Salagrama, Director
Integrated Coastal Management (ICM), Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India,
Abstract: is paper contributes to the theory of interactive governance, which is one branch
in the scientifi c discipline of governance studies, by exploring the application of the governability
concept to the capture fi sheries of the Bay of Bengal. It focuses on two aspects of governability: the
defi nition of system boundaries, and the application of governability criteria.  e focus with regard
to the latter is on ‘representation’. Two possible defi nitions of a system-to-be-governed are explored:
an ecological defi nition on the basis of Large Marine Ecosystems (LME), and a social defi nition
based on the jurisdiction of non-governmental fi sher councils.  e conclusion is that the boundaries
of governance systems for natural resource management are arbitrary, and various delineations have
competing strengths and weaknesses. Although interactive governance theory provides useful insights
for understanding the issues at hand, the operationalization of its conceptualization of governability
is, however, hampered by ambiguity in the defi nition of criteria. Analysis suggests that ‘representa-
tion’ as an indicator of governability is most usefully interpreted as ‘level of attunement’ rather than
simply as the mirroring of characteristics of the system-to-be-governed in the governing system.
Key words: governability, Bay of Bengal, capture fi sheries, LME, institutional arrangements
1. Introduction
roughout the world capture fi sheries are regarded as
being in deep trouble, particularly as a result of heavy
shing activity (FAO 2006, Kulbicki 2005).  e large
marine ecosystem (LME) of the Bay of Bengal is no
exception to the rule. Fishing pressure is highest in
inshore fi shing zones. Defi cient governance arrange-
ments are held to be part of the problem (SAUP
2005, BOBLME 2004, Preston 2004), and academic
and policy-oriented agencies are making concerted
eff orts to understand the attributes of more adequate
approaches. Governance has become the catchword,
also with regard to capture fi sheries (FAO 2007, Gray
2006, WHAT 2000, Fanning et al. 2007). Interactive
governance is a theoretical approach that has gained
international recognition (Kooiman 2003) and is
recently being applied to aquatic resources (Kooiman
et al. 1999, Kooiman et al. 2005).
Interactive governance theory proceeds according
to the assumption that the actual practice of gov-
ernance is the result of interaction between many
governing actors (including the nation state) at dif-
Bavinck and Salagrama: Assessing the Governability of Capture Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal ...
ferent scale levels. It distinguishes three orders, or
analytical levels, ranging from principles and values
(meta-governance), to institutional arrangements
(second-order governance), and the management of
day-to-day aff airs (fi rst-order governance). Finally,
the act of governing is deeply infl uenced by the
diversity, complexity, and dynamics of the system,
as well as by issues of scale.
Recent publications (Jentoft 2007, Jentoft et al.
2007) highlight governability, which is argued to be
crucial particularly for the policymaking process. Af-
ter all, “a fi sheries governor aiming to put governance
into action should fi rst examine the governability
of the fi shery” (Mahon et al. 2005:351). Kooiman
et al. (this issue) defi ne governability as “the overall
capacity for governance in the totality of any System,”
the latter being made up of a system-to-be-governed
(needs) and a governing system (capacities).  e
match between the system-to-be-governed and
the governing system is measured on an ordinal
scale, and may vary from high to low (Kooiman
and Chuenpagdee 2005). Authors distinguish four
(ibid.) or, alternatively, fi ve (Kooiman et al., this
issue) criteria for measuring governability, each cor-
relating with a dimension of interactive governance
theory.  e criteria mentioned are: representation,
t (or rationality), responsiveness, performance and
the presence of interactions.
Although governability is a new concept, and still in
the process of elaboration, it is worthwhile investi-
gating its utility on the ground. Mahon (this issue)
examines the implications of governance/govern-
ability theory for an understanding of the state of
capture fi sheries in the Caribbean.  e present paper
applies the same theory to the fi sheries of the Bay of
Bengal, yet also has a refl ective ambition. It inquires
to what extent governance/governability theory
actually ‘works’ in concrete cases, and what aspects
may require further thinking. As one of the last
articles in this special issue, it therefore emphasizes
the ongoing – and interactive! - nature of theory
formation, and suggests areas for future activity.
However, rather than ‘testing’ the entire theory of
governability, we focus on one criterion: representa-
tion and on the feature of diversity. An alternative
selection might raise other issues.  e expectation,
however, is that even a partial analysis has signifi -
cance for the whole.
e paper also addresses the issue of system bounda-
ries. If governance is indeed systematic, or systems-
based, as interactive governance theory assumes, it
is important to distinguish what is inside the system
from what is outside. We shall note, however, that,
in the case of the Bay of Bengal, there are various
entry points for the distinction of system boundaries,
none of which has a natural prerogative.
2. Governability and the Contours of a
Fishery System
2.1  eoretical Discussion
e analytical point of departure is a fi shery system
that encompasses a system-to-be-governed as well
as a governing system (see Diagram 1). Kooiman
et al. (2005) identify the system-to-be-governed in
sheries as the fi sh chain. Other than for example
Charles (2001), who distinguishes a natural and a
human system in fi sheries, orpe, Johnson and
Bavinck (2005) suggest that the fi sh chain includes
the full set of interactions taking place from the
marine ecology, to the fi shing economy, to the con-
sumer.  e study of the workings of the fi sh chain
thus brings together representatives from diff erent
disciplines. It also involves a variety of spatial scales,
from local to global.
Fish chains are subject to the infl uence of strong
drivers that are gathered under the umbrella con-
cept of globalization (Chuenpagdee et al. 2005).
Globalization refers to a process of economic inte-
gration, that has been gathering pace over a period
of centuries. Market forces create demand-induced
development ( orpe, Williams and Van Zyl 2005),
and contribute to fordism in fi sheries (Johnson et
al. 2005, Salagrama 2004).  e changes induced
by globalization pose severe challenges to whatever
sheries governance systems are in place, and consti-
tute one of the major causes for their contemporary
Kooiman et al. (2005) argue that there is a time trend
in fi sheries toward greater diversity, complexity and
dynamics. Diversity refers to the variation that ex-
ists in a fi shery, complexity to its architecture, and
dynamics to its propensity for change. Moreover,
these authors point out that time and space dimen-
sions of fi sh chains are signifi cant for governance
(Kooiman and Bavinck 2005).  e suggestion is
e Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies (TES)
that scale variations between diff erent parts of the
sh chain add to diversity, complexity and dynamics,
and cause frictions that require specifi c governance
attention. A good example of scale-related friction
is the diff erence that often occurs between the scale
of a marine ecosystem, the scale of fi shing activity,
and the scale of political and administrative units
(BCLME 2005).
In reality, governance systems are as complex as
the systems-to-be-governed. As was noted above,
the interactive governance approach does not view
governance – defi ned as the whole of interactions
taken to solve societal problems and create societal
opportunities - to be the sole prerogative of govern-
ment. Many of the human actors involved in the fi sh
chain also undertake governance activity, and their
interactions contribute to the overall tendency of
the fi sheries. Such non-governmental actors include
voluntary associations, business companies, NGOs,
village councils, international organizations and
political parties.
Governability is concerned with the match between
the system-to-be-governed, or the fi sh chain, and
the governing system.  e latter, it is argued, must
‘correspond’ in some manner and degree with the
former. As each fi shery has its own features, gov-
erning systems must in principle diff er from loca-
tion to location. In addition, they diff er in time.
As Kooiman and Chuenpagdee (2005:342) point
out, the level of “governability is not static. On the
contrary, it is always changing, depending on external
and internal factors…”.
2.2  e Fishery System defi ned
e rst question relevant to our application of
interactive governance theory is: what is a fi shery
system, and how does one proceed in defi ning it?
Current publications provide no unequivocal guid-
ance, and other aspects of interactive governance
theory suggests that the exercise may be a diffi cult
one. After all, fi sh chains are many in number, and
closely enmeshed. Moreover, governing efforts,
Kooiman and Bavinck (2005:14) argue, resemble a
large, tangled and constantly changing spider’s web”.
How, in such a setting, does one distinguish one
shery system from another?
Current practice (cf. Mahon et al. 2005) is to ap-
proach this problem from the perspective of the eco-
system.  e boundaries of the latter thus defi ne the
System -
Diagram 1: Cross-section of a fishery system
Bavinck and Salagrama: Assessing the Governability of Capture Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal ...
remainder of the fi shery system, from fi sh capture
to processing and distribution. In a situation where
ecosystem health is a prime concern, this perspective
makes sense. But objectively speaking there is no
reason why one should not start at another point,
such as with the boundaries marking the range of
a particular fi shing fl eet, the distribution fi eld of a
specifi c seafood product, or the range of infl uence
of an important governing actor. Although disci-
plinary conventions sometimes suggest otherwise,
none of these approaches is more intrinsically valid
than another.1
In order to investigate the implications of the gov-
ernability concept for fi sheries, we choose two in the
range of possible points of departure: an ecosystem
and a jurisdictional system.  ese correspond with
the subject areas of marine ecologists and political
scientists.  e ecosystem we have chosen for the
rst application is the Large Marine Ecosystem of
the Bay of Bengal, as defi ned in the international
arena.  e second application begins with the non-
governmental fi sher councils of Tamil Nadu, India,
which exert great infl uence over fi sheries.  is gov-
erning system has a range of infl uence that does not
coincide with ecosystem boundaries.
2.3  e Criterion of Representation
e following questions relate to the measurement of
governability, and concern the criteria of representa-
tion and interaction. Representation “is the manner
and degree to which the features of a system correspond
with those in its governing system (Kooiman and
Chuenpagdee 2005:347), with ‘features’ referring
to diversity, complexity, and dynamics.  ese au-
thors also provide a hint to the kind of questions
that researchers should pose themselves: “Does the
governing system refl ect the diversity of the ecosystem it
is supposed to govern, and of those exploiting it?”.  e
supposition, it must be noted, is that correspond-
ence is a ‘good’ thing, diversity in the fi sh chain is
argued to be mirrored in the governing system, as
is complexity, and dynamics.
But what does it mean for the features of a fi sh chain
to be ‘refl ected’ in the governance system? Is this a
case of parallelism, whereby a particular pattern of
diversity, complexity and dynamics in the fi sh chain
is similarly mirrored in the governing system? Or is
it a matter of adjustment, whereby the governing
system is ‘cognizant of’ and ‘positively attuned to’
the nature of the fi sh chain, making maximum use
of the opportunities that arise? Both interpretations
prevail. Mahon et al. (2005) thus argue that the
‘dynamics’ that generally aff ect sh chains should
be matched by the dynamics of the ‘learning or-
ganization’. Here dynamics are met with dynamics
– a clear instance of mirroring. According to the
same authors, however, the diversity and complexity
of fi sh chains should, on the other hand, be matched
by ‘partnership’ between governing actors.  is is
not a matter of one-to-one refl ection, but a case of
positive attunement: diverse and complex situations
are best addressed in partnership.  e conceptual
ambiguity that thus prevails inhibits the application
of the governability concept to concrete situations.
3. LME 34:  e Bay of Bengal
3.1 Genesis
e concept of Large Marine Ecosystems (LME),
which was fi rst ventured in the 1980s (Sherman and
Alexander 1986), attained wide ranging acceptance
as a result of the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992
and the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(WSSD) in 2002, which highlighted the degradation
of marine and coastal environments. LME’s were
to serve as “an ecological framework of management”
(BCLME 2005:2). We use following working defi ni-
tion (Duda and Sherman 2002:802):
“Large Marine Ecosystems are regions of ocean space
encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estu-
aries to the seaward boundaries of continental shelves,
enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and the outer margins
of the major current systems.  ey are relatively large
regions […] characterized by distinct bathymetry,
hydrography, productivity, and tropically dependent
populations (italics by the authors)” .
It is important to underscore the basis for the de-
limitation of LME’s, which lies in a combination
of natural characteristics, as determined by natural
scientists (and not, e.g., by fi shers), at a relatively
high scale level. Each LME possesses distinctiveness,
which, according to the experts involved, also make
them sensible management units.
Management eff orts at this scale level, however, are
only just starting to emerge, and LME’s still exist
e Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies (TES)
mainly as an ideal construct. In interactive govern-
ance the term for such steering notions is ‘images’.
e image underlying the LME eff ort is as follows
(URI 2005a:2):
“If the spiraling degradation of coastal and marine
ecosystems is to be reversed so that these ecosystems con-
tinue to provide both livelihood benefi ts to coastal com-
munities and foreign exchange to governments, a more
ecosystem-based approach needs to be implemented.
e fragmentation and competition characteristic of
post-UNCED coastal ocean activities should be over-
come and stakeholders enlisted as a force for reform
in the economic sectors creating the stress on marine
ecosystems” .
International organizations – notably the World Con-
servation Union (IUCN), the Inter-governmental
Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC),
the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin-
istration (NOAA), and the Global Environmental
Facility (GEF) – have played an important role in the
elaboration and implementation of the LME concept.
is has resulted in a division of the world’s oceans
into 64 distinct LME’s, which together are responsible
for 95% of the annual global fi sheries biomass yields.
e Bay of Bengal is known as LME 34 (Map 1).
3.2  e System-to-be-governed
LME 34 covers an ocean area of 3.66 million km2
located between India and Sri Lanka in the west, and
Malaysia and Indonesia in the east. It includes ter-
ritorial seas (where adjacent states have full judicial
competence), continental shelf areas (under state
jurisdiction) and high seas (beyond jurisdiction of
coastal states). LME 34 is characterized by a tropical
climate, and is aff ected by monsoons, storm surges,
and cyclones. It has no seasonal upwelling. Major
rivers such as the Ganges and the Brahmaputra dis-
charge large quantities of fresh water into the bay
annually. LME 34 is considered to be a moderately
productive (Class II) ecosystem based on SeaWiFS
global primary productivity estimates.  e force
driving the LME is understood to be intensive fi sh-
ing, with climate as the secondary driving force.
Wetlands, marshes, and mangroves play an impor-
tant role in the overall productivity.
Although there is an element of unity that distin-
guishes the Bay of Bengal from other LMEs, LME
34 is characterized internally by great diversity
and complexity in its fi sheries. To start with, URI
(2005b:2) points out that the LME “has a relatively
great marine biodiversity that is refl ected in the catch
composition”. e prevalence of a large measure of
Map 1. LME 34:  e Bay of Bengal (Sea Around Us Project 2005).
Bavinck and Salagrama: Assessing the Governability of Capture Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal ...
marine biodiversity corresponds with the tropical
location of the Bay of Bengal. It is also linked to the
existence in the LME of a large variety of marine
habitats, including mangroves, wetlands, estuaries,
coral reefs, deep seas etc.
e human side of the fi sheries system too is highly
diverse.  us, the eight countries bordering the LME
(Sri Lanka, Maldives, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar,
ailand, Malaysia and Indonesia) are home to a
quarter of the world population, and 400 million
people are estimated to live in the LME catchment
area.  is population is spread along thousands of
kilometers of coastline, and divided into many frac-
tions by diff erences of language, ethnicity or caste,
religion, class and other identities. In addition, this
population is historically divided by the borders of
the prevailing nation states, which have followed dif-
ferent political trajectories. Although transboundary
migration fl ows exist, travel between these countries
is still often diffi cult, and, for many fi shers, even
hazardous (ICSF, 2003).
e shing population of the region too is divided.
Table 1 provides an overview of the distribution of
the marine fi shing population of the region accord-
ing to nation states.
Besides the social diff erences noted above that also
permeate the fi shing population, the fi shers of this
region are also divided into categories such as small-
scale, semi-industrial and industrial (Johnson et al.
2005). Many confl icts between these categories pre-
vail (Bavinck 2005). But there are many more subtle
variations in fi shing practice too – distinctions that
require diff erent governance approaches.
e sheries of the Bay of Bengal are aff ected at least
by the following dynamics (cf. URI 2005b):
A continuous increase in the number of fi shers;
A continuous process of technical innovation and
expansion of range;
• Signs that, despite increasing catch levels, over-
shing is occurring;
• Indications that confl ict levels remain high and
may even be intensifying.
Some factors outside the direct realm of fi sheries, but
of relevance for developments therein are:
•  e high incidence of poverty, and a lack of al-
ternative employment avenues, in the countries
•  e globalization of markets, that aff ects the
intensity and direction of fi shing eff ort; and
Pollution, sedimentation, construction of dams,
and intensive coastal aquaculture threatens fi sh
spawning and nursery areas.
is second set of factors points out that, for man-
agement of LME 34 to be at all eff ective, the scope
must be enlarged beyond marine ecosystems and the
process of fi sh capture.  is is in line with interactive
governance thinking, which emphasizes the connec-
tions between economic sectors and diff erent scale
levels (Pascual-Fernandez et al. 2005).
3.3  e Governing System
e rst important observation to be made is that
LME 34 does not possess a corresponding organi-
zational structure. URI (2005b:4) notes that: “a
multitude of international, regional and sub-regional
institutions operate in the Bay of Bengal, many of which
have similar mandates, resulting in overlap and dupli-
cation”. Most of these are not specifi cally concerned
Sri Lanka Maldives India* Bangladesh Myanmar Thailand Malaysia* Indonesia*
Length of
(km) 2,825 2,002 8,590 3,306 14,708 7,066 4,661 47,590
population 146,188 19,108 2,979,372 1,320,480 610,000 354,495 5,333 2,559,285
Table 1. Distribution of the fi shing population of LME 34 in millions (FAO 2006)
* As the shorelines of India, Malaysia and Indonesia also border other LME’s and separate gures are not available, we have estimated
the number of shers in LME 34 as 50% of the of cial country gures.
e Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies (TES)
with governance of the marine ecosystem, and many
have diff erent geographi-cal scopes than the Bay of
Bengal.  us the Regional Fisheries Bodies (RFB)
that have been constituted for South and Southeast
Asia cover regions that do not coincide with the
boundaries of LME 34 (FAO 2005).
e locus of state authority in the Bay of Bengal
region currently lies at the country level.  e eight
governments that exercise power over parts of LME
34 are segmented vertically into departments and
ministries, and horizontally into many tiers. With
respect to the fi sheries policies of these govern-
ments, URI (2005b:2) concludes that “in most of
the countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal, clear
policies, appropriate strategies and measures for the
sustainable management of the fi shery resources are
weak”. With regard to India, Hosch and Flewwel-
ing (2003:6) conclude that “fi sheries policies…have
been developed with few linkages between the sectors,
based on dated legislation, and focused on increased
production with little emphasis on conservation,
sustainability or responsible fi sheries management”.
One reason for this state of aff airs may be that, as
Bavinck and Johnson (2008) argue, the onus of
government policy hitherto has been on fi sheries
development, not on management. To again cite
Hosch and Flewweling (2003:5): coastal Fishing
Policy is thus production and export oriented and
under the control of State Governments with support
from the National/Union Government”.
Outside government, the LME region possesses
many private governors involved in marine fi sheries
regulation.  ese include NGOs and INGOs - such
as World Fish Center and the International Collective
for the Support of Fishworkers (ICSF) - which are
infl uential in tabling and promoting fi sher and ma-
rine ecosystem interests.  e ICSF eff orts to promote
direct communication between the fi sheries sectors of
various countries stand out for creating new linkages
between fi sher actors.
But the fi sheries of the region too possesses a rich
organizational infrastructure that ranges from pro-
fessional organizations to traditional village coun-
cils. Such organizations frequently exert substantial
infl uence over fi shing activity. However, their geo-
graphical range is generally limited, and very few if
any reach up even to the country level. In addition,
there are often few contacts between state and pri-
vate governors, and the latter are generally accorded
limited recognition.
3.4 Governability
How is the representation of the features – diversity,
complexity and dynamics - of the system-to-be-
governed within the governing system to be assessed?
is is no easy task even under the best of circum-
stances, as much of the information that would be
necessary for a thorough assessment is simply not
available. Conceptual issues also impede assessment,
with the defi nition of ‘representation’ being especially
problematic. Let us take the feature ‘diversity’ as a
case in point.
We already pointed out a rich variety of ecosystem
components within the ‘unity’ of the LME. On the
human side of the equation too, a great diversity
was pointed out.  ese two diversities do not cor-
respond, as human societies - although cognizant of
and responsive to the characteristics of natural sys-
tems - possess their own dynamics.  e governance
system too is very diverse. Can we now conclude
that, because there is diversity on all fronts, that the
level of representation for LME 34 is high?
e likely answer is ‘no’. After all, the diversity of the
governing system in LME 34 is not a governance-
induced response to the diversity of the system-to-
be-governed.  ese diversities have diff erent origins,
and are only very partially tuned to one another. For
the features of a governing system to represent those
of the system-to-be-governed, there is a need for a
conscious evaluation of the diversity of the latter, and
for a deliberated attunement of the governing system.
In addition, one would expect that the various parts
of the governing system would be better adjusted.
In terms of representation the current governability
of LME 34 is therefore low. One should, however,
bear in mind that the LME-image has strong sup-
porters. It is therefore not unlikely that, at a future
moment of time – if, e.g., the RFB’s are readjusted to
LME-scales, and achieve more responsibilities – the
governability of this LME will increase.
We noted above that LME 34 has many governors,
ranging from international organizations, national
and sub-national governments, and a range of non-
governmental actors. Although governments are in
touch with each other, also with regard to fi shing,
Bavinck and Salagrama: Assessing the Governability of Capture Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal ...
co-ordination is weak.  is emerges for instance
in the fact that fi shers who stray into the territorial
waters of other states are incarcerated for longer
periods of time. Relations between governments and
non-governmental actors too are nascent. Although
participatory management has received a willing ear
in at least a few of the countries adjacent the Bay of
Bengal, implementation is uneven.
4. Fisher Councils’ Jurisdiction: Tamil
Nadu, India
4.1  e Governing System
e starting point of the second application of inter-
active governance theory is the jurisdiction of fi sher
institutions in Tamil Nadu, India. We have pointed
out elsewhere that the main source of authority
over fi sheries along this coastline has historically
been located in non-state village councils (Bavinck
2001a,b). For an understanding of the situation, we
need to fi ll in some background.
With the exception of several trade ports, the coast-
line of Tamil Nadu has historically been peripheral.
e marine fi shing population of the state, although
numerous, is settled in small, homogeneous fi shing
villages, governed by its own councils and headmen.
ese authorities take charge over a large range
of village aff airs, including fi sheries. Each village
council is acknowledged as enjoying jurisdiction
over an area of land and an adjacent sea area, the
boundaries of which are fi xed in mutual agreement
by neighbouring villages.
e British colonial government was little interested
in marine fi sheries, as production and value-levels
were low. Consequently, marine fi sheries legislation
was extremely limited in nature and scope, and gov-
ernment offi cers rarely involved themselves in fi shing
aff airs. In the post-independence period, the state
government of Tamil Nadu, which was granted au-
thority over fi sheries in the territorial seas, initiated
a change in the late 1950s that later became known
as the blue revolution.  is intervention created a
semi-industrialised fi sheries, and a new group of fi sh-
ers, in addition to the existing small-scale fi sheries.
e tensions that commenced between these two
groups of fi shers have continued to the present and
are the primary trigger for government involvement
in fi sheries regulation (Bavinck 2003, 2005).
e formal government structure for managing
capture fi sheries is challenged in several important
ways. First, the fi sheries regulations ( e Tamil
Nadu Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1984), are
not focused on resource management. Instead, they
are mainly concerned with containing the confl ict
between the semi-industrialized and small-scale
shers. Second, the capacity of the Fisheries Depart-
ment is limited in its ability to implement many
parts of its legislative mandates. Additionally, the
Department faces opposition from fi shermen who
generally resent the infringements of offi cials on
‘their’ domain. For these reasons, we have concluded
elsewhere (Bavinck 2001a:343) that the artisanal
[small-scale fi sheries] system is the most eff ective in
developing and enforcing fi shing regulations”.
e unwritten, yet fundamental clause of small-scale
sheries is that village councils have prerogative over
adjacent waters and seashore. As the average distance
between villages along this coastline is approximately
2 km, and fi shing tends to concentrate in a belt 5
km wide, each council enjoys exclusive control over
an average of 10 km2.  is, however, does not mean
that fi shers always stay within village waters – in fact,
there is a large measure of mobility up and down
the coast, and fi shers regularly encounter ‘strangers
on their and others’ fi shing grounds.  is is taken
to be a normal course of aff airs; after all, as fi shers
point out, the fi sh does not stick to boundaries, so
how can we?’.  e only condition for fi shing in other
than the own fi shing territory is that one follows up
local rules and instructions.
Here village councils and headmen come in.  ese
non-state authorities – often termed ‘panchayats
or ‘caste councils’ - lack offi ces, uniforms and
regular meeting times, and in fact constitute a
variation of an older Indian pattern of decision-
making (Mandelbaum 1970). Village meetings,
in which council members and headmen preside,
provide local fi shers with the opportunity to talk over
important topics and to arrive at an acceptable deci-
sion. Furthermore, such meetings provide a favoured
platform for tabling disputes and for speaking justice”
(Bavinck 2001a:149).
Village councils regularly take action to regulate
shing, focusing on the process of technical innova-
tion.  e introduction of new fi shing gears or fi sh-
ing practices often provokes deliberations on their
e Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies (TES)
desirability and preferred modes of implementation.
It is not unusual for a fi shing gear to be banned, or
for its implementation to be curtailed (Bavinck and
Karunaharan 2006a).  ere are three reasons for
banning or curtailing a new fi shing gear or practice:
harm to the fi shing grounds and the future of fi shing,
harm to the style of fi shing practiced by the major-
ity of fi shers, and harm to the community.  e rst
motive in particular is relevant to the concerns of
contemporary fi sheries management. It means in
practice that a village council – or, as is frequently
the case, a chain of village councils – takes action to
prevent a fi shing practice that it considers deleterious
for the ecosystem.  is rule applies to local fi shers as
well as to strangers working in the local sea territory,
and is enforced by the body of local fi shers.
e locus of governance activity in the small-scale
sheries of Tamil Nadu thus lies at the village level.
For problems at a higher-than-local level, the fi sh-
ers of this region have found a special institutional
solution, called a ‘panchayat circle’ (Mandelbaum
1970). According to this old-time practice, councils
from up to 20 villages gather on an ad hoc basis to
discuss and decide on common problems. More
recently, fi shers in the region have also formed
new-style organizations for political representation
and lobbying. However, so far the competence of
these organizations has fl uctuated signifi cantly with
changes in leadership, causing them to be ineff ective
in infl uencing fi sheries regulations.
Although the small-scale fi sher system of regula-
tion continues to stand fi rm, there is evidence for a
gradual weakening of control. Governmental non-
recognition and opposition is one important cause.
e fact that semi-industrialized fi shers transgress
into village fi shing grounds with impunity also
undermines council authority from the outside.
Internal factors too have weakened village decision-
making. Particularly, the increased integration of
the fi shing villages within mainstream society, the
diff erentiation of village economies, and doubts as to
the legitimacy of council decisions have all aff ected
4.2  e System-to-be-governed
e system-to-be-governed by the village councils
of Tamil Nadu lies on the fringe of the western
section of the Bay of Bengal, and makes up only
a small portion of its total surface area. Although
the continental shelf area is generally known as the
most productive, the Tamil Nadu coast is of a varied
nature. It is often held to consist of three natural
areas. South of the section known as the Coroman-
del Coast, which even in colonial times had the
reputation of being the poorest fi shing ground in the
Presidency (Madras Fisheries Bureau 1916), and is
surfbeaten, unlike the shallow Palk Straits and the
Gulf of Mannar.  e latter, sprinkled with islands
and coral reefs, is internationally recognized as pos-
sessing a remarkable biodiversity, and a major sec-
tion has therefore been declared a marine biosphere
reserve as well as a national park.  e southernmost
section of the Tamil Nadu coast abuts the Indian
Ocean, and constitutes, for example, the base for
communities of long-distance shark fi shers.  e
range of fi sh species along the Tamil Nadu coast is
large, and is made up of demersal as well as pelagic
varieties.  e Central Marine Fisheries Research
Institute (CMFRI 1991) distinguishes 192 species
of fi sh along the Coromandel Coast.
The Department of Fisheries (Department of
Fisheries 2000) calculates the marine fi shing popu-
lation of the state today at 700,000 with almost
170,000 active fi shers.  ere are presently almost
50,000 fi shing craft in operation, of which 8000
belong to the semi-industrial fl eet. is fl eet is
based in ten harbour sites scattered at intervals
along the coast. Seasonal migration is a regular
phenomenon, particularly in the southern reaches
of the state.
e Tamil Nadu inshore fi sheries is characterized
by a large variety of fi sh chains, varying by sub-
region, season, and markets.  e export market
has expanded in volume as well as in scope since
the 1960s, with the most important species being
shrimp, fi n sh, cuttlefi sh and squid2.  e domestic
market too is large and intricate, and is served via a
large number of channels. A complicated network
of processors and traders is responsible for the dis-
tribution of produce from fi sh landing centres to
the various centres of consumption.
4.3 Governability
Evaluated according to the criterion of representa-
tion, the governing system of the village councils of
Tamil Nadu possesses noteworthy qualities.  e rst
is that the governing system matches the geographi-
cal diversity of the system-to-be-governed. Being
Bavinck and Salagrama: Assessing the Governability of Capture Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal ...
located at the level of the individual fi shing village,
governors are able to react to variations in the fi sh
chain as they occur along the coastline.
e system’s comprehensiveness too has a positive
bearing on governability. Every fi shing village along
the coast possesses a governing system more-or-less
of the type described above3 , and together they cover
the inshore waters of the coast up to approximately
5 kilometers distance.  e most productive fi shing
grounds along the Southeast Indian coastline are
therefore under some form of management. We have
argued elsewhere that a closely woven regulatory
framework of this kind off ers important opportuni-
ties for governance (Bavinck 2001a).
e fact that the governors are part of the system-
to-be-governed also stands out. Fishers jointly take
decisions for the regulation of the fi sheries, and
are responsible for the monitoring of rules and the
judgement of off ences. At the same time they are the
ones being monitored and judged.  e involvement
of fi shers in governing activity is often promoted
because it increases the legitimacy of a governing
system (Jentoft 1989). From this perspective, village
councils make a useful contribution.
But there are factors too that detract from the
governability of the fi shery system as a whole.  e
governing system suff ers from a lack of fi t with the
contours of the ecosystem. Each village unit covers
a limited sea territory, the boundaries of which were
not constructed to coincide with ecosystem bounda-
ries.  is means that many ecosystem changes are
beyond the infl uence of the village council.  e same
holds true if one takes the village councils together.
e inshore marine ecosystem of the coast of Tamil
Nadu is part of a larger land and marine ecosystems.
e village councils are able to control only a small
part of this larger system-to-be-governed.
From the viewpoint of institutional connections
too there are disadvantages. Although the governing
system at the village level is geared to maximize inter-
actions through the institution of village meetings,
at other levels interactions are few in number.  us
the nesting of village councils in larger non-state
units, such as panchayat circles, is weak. If such
larger units existed in the past, they have largely
been worn away.  e connections with government
agencies, on the other hand, are contradictory and
infused with distrust. Although government offi cers
realize that they cannot bypass the village councils
in daily aff airs, genuine cooperation is rare.
Taken as a whole, the governability of this fi shery
system is uneven.  ere are many positive aspects
in fi sher councils’ governing system, however, that
deserve attention and might be built upon.
5.  eoretical Refl ection
is paper aimed to assess and contribute to the
theory of governability through an application to
the capture fi sheries of the Bay of Bengal. It centred
on two aspects of governability theory: the issue of
system boundaries, and the governability criterion
of representation, with a further focus on diversity.
latter is part of a larger schema for the comparative
evaluation of governability.
From the viewpoint of analysis it is important to be
able to delimit the object of study. In the case of a
sheries system the problem, however, is where to
start: in ecology, social structure, or in prevailing
patterns of governance? Our analysis demonstrates
that as natural and human systems often do not
coincide, the point of departure tends to establish
the study’s parameters. An ecosystem approach thus
leads us for example to defi ne the fi sheries system
at the regional, Large Marine Ecosystem level (3.66
million km2). Commencing at the level of an impor-
tant governing system, the village councils of Tamil
Nadu, however, results in the delimitation of small
(10 km2) zones. In reality, the range of choices is of
course much larger. How to proceed?
e interactive governance approach indicates that
there is no defi nite answer to this question. In line
with the increasing diversity, complexity and dynam-
ics of fi sh chains, and the availability of multiple
images regarding their constitution, this approach
in fact allows for many responses, none of which
possess absolute validity. Instead, each angle off ers
information that is useful in assessing the governabil-
ity of the system as a whole.  is system has no un-
equivocal boundaries; it is composed as to the needs
of the researcher or practitioner, who recognizes the
parallel existence of multiple images. As Johnson et
al. (2005:143) point out: “governance solutions need
to be multiple and able to work at diff erent spatial,
institutional, and disciplinary scales”.
e Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies (TES)
A second issue regards the meaning of the evaluation
criterion termed ‘representation’. Is ‘representation’
of the features of the system-to-be-governed in the
governing system a matter of mirroring, or rather of
attunement? And if the latter is true, what would
distinguish ‘representation’ from the criterion of ‘re-
sponsiveness’ (Kooiman and Chuenpagdee 2005)?
Our two cases brought out the diffi culties of opera-
tionalising representation with regard to the feature
of diversity.  is is partly due to the general nature
of the latter concept, which prevents precise and
unequivocal application to the fi eld of fi sheries.  e
discussion also raises fundamental doubts, however,
as to the value of the representation criterion in
assessing governability. For is a governing system
with, for example, a high diversity better able to
govern a diverse fi sheries system? It would appear
to depend, fi rst of all, on the types of diversity
involved and the extent to which the diversity of
the sys-tem-to-be-governed corresponds with the
diversity of the governing system. But even then:
is a diverse governing system better able to govern
a diverse system-to-be-governed than a non-diverse
system?  is is not necessarily the case. Rather than
the mirror defi nition of representation, we therefore
argue the case of representation as attunement.  e
main question to be asked is: does the governing
system in question take adequate account of the
diversity of the system-to-be-governed?
6. Postscript: Governing LME 34
In a recent publication on Caribbean fi sheries
(Fanning et al. 2007:436), a group of scholars
concludes that “the reality of Caribbean governance
is a diversity of networks of actors serving various
purposes that seldom intersect eff ectively”. Similar
to the Bay of Bengal, the Caribbean hosts a rich
human diversity, and a severe depletion of marine
resources.  e four LMEs, which have been distin-
guished for that region, are, in many respects, no
more than images of potential governance.  is is
reminiscent of our study area.
Some avenues for future governing emerge from
theory. Recognizing the plethora of governing ac-
tors at various scale levels, the fi rst suggestion is to
create and strengthen linkages between policy cycles
that prevail in a LME. As these scholars point out:
“the goal of interventions would be to establish and
enhance cycles and linkages that are context specifi c
and appropriate to purpose, capacity and complexity”
(ibid.:441). Another group of authors refers in this
regard to the reinforcement of partnership through
inclusion and interaction.  ey argue that, as many
of the challenges, concerns and hard choices faced
by governing actors are generated by the complexity
of the fi sh chain, the solution is to be as inclusive
as possible (Bavinck et al. 2005). In the context of
our case study this implies connecting the village
councils of Tamil Nadu with various state depart-
ments and Regional Fisheries Bodies, to mention
only a few of the governing actors present. It will
be clear that this is not an trouble-free process.  e
end goal would be to “draw the organizations of all
the actors into a commonly understood and agreed
framework” (Mahon et al. 2005).
A second avenue regards the promotion of a learning
approach (Bavinck et al. 2005, Mahon et al. 2005).
If interactive governance theory is correct in arguing
that systems-to-be-governed are characterized by
diversity, complexity, and dynamics, this can only
be met by creating a governing system that is, as a
whole, adaptive and fl exible.  is too is a challeng-
ing, yet meaningful task.
e authors acknowledge gratefully the support of
the European Commission by way of its programmes
FISHGOVFOOD (ICA4-CT-2001-10038) and
ECOST (003711).
1 See Johnson et al. (2005) for a thoughtful analysis of disci-
plinary predilections with regard to the analysis of the fi sh
2 The Marine Products Export Development Authority
(MPEDA) maintains statistics with regard to exports, but
does not provide a breakdown according to states.  e main
export items from India in terms of volume as well as value
in 2004-2005 were shrimp, fi n sh, cuttlefi sh and squid
(MPEDA 2006).
3  ere are diff erences, however, between the governing
system of the Coromandel Coast, which is dominated by
members of the Hindu Pattinavar caste, and arrangements
along the other two sections of the Tamil Nadu coastline.
us village councils occupy a less prominent position
Bavinck and Salagrama: Assessing the Governability of Capture Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal ...
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... In addition, governing institutions need to be structured in a way that corresponds with the problem that they are intended to address [14][15][16]. In other words, measures employed to combat IUU fishing need to match with the way the problems are perceived by various stakeholders, at the same time reflecting the diversity, complexity, and dynamics inherent in the social system, as well as in the natural environment [9,17,18]. ...
... Studies have shown that social acceptance of fisheries management measures by fishers is a crucial factor that may influence management outcomes and the success of legislation [22,53]. Probing further in the fisheries governance literature, it is argued that images, instruments, and actions are closely connected [16,17]. In the case of tackling IUU fishing in Lake Victoria, this implies that the measures and actions taken towards IUU fishing should reflect on how the problem is perceived or understood by the different stakeholders in the fisheries, i.e., the images that are formed in their minds [15,22]. ...
Full-text available
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major concern in fisheries management around the world. Several measures have been taken to address the problem. In Lake Victoria, the alleviation of IUU fishing is implemented through the Regional Plan of Action (RPOA-IUU), which restricts use of certain fishing gear, as well as prohibits fishing in closed areas and during closed seasons. Despite the long-term efforts to monitor and control what goes on in the fisheries, IUU fishing has persisted in Lake Victoria. Inspired by interactive governance theory, this paper argues that the persistence of IUU fishing could be due to different images that stakeholders have about the situation, rather than the lack of management competency. Through structured interviews with 150 fisheries stakeholders on Ijinga Island in the southeastern part of Lake Victoria, Tanzania, using paired comparison questionnaires, the study elicits stakeholders’ perspective about the severity of different locally-pertinent fishing-related activities. The results show that while fisheries stakeholder groups agree on their judgments about certain fishing gears, some differences are also apparent. For instance, fisheries managers and scientists do not always agree with fishing people about what activities cause the most damage to fisheries resources and ecosystem. Further, they tend to consider some IUU fishing-related activities less damaging than some non-IUU fishing. Such disparity creates governability challenges, pointing to the need to revisit relevant regulatory measures and to make them consistent with the knowledge and judgments of all stakeholders. Based on these findings, we discuss governing interventions that may contribute to addressing IUU fishing in Lake Victoria and elsewhere.
... Examples include capture fisheries and aquaculture (Scholtens, 2016a;Song et al., 2013;Scholtens and Bavinck, 2013;Chuenpagdee et al. 2008;Bavinck and Salagrama, 2008;Kooiman and Bavinck., 2005;Bavinck et al., 2005), coastal and marine governance According to Jentoft et al. (2007:613), governability is ultimately the 'outcome of any socio-political process that may break one way or another, depending on the relative bargaining power of stakeholder groups, individually or by coalition, at a particular point in time'. Assessing governability (e.g. in a contested marine ecosystem) is part of a 'reality check that governors must engage in to improve effectiveness' . ...
... e.g. capture fisheries and aquaculture (Scholtens, 2016a;Song et al., 2013;Scholtens and Bavinck, 2013;Chuenpagdee et al. 2008;Bavinck and Salagrama, 2008;Kooiman and Bavinck., 2005;Bavinck et al., 2005), coastal and marine governance ) marine conservation (Chuenpagdee, 2011), marine protected areas (Pascual-Fernández, 2015;De la Cruz Modino, 2013;Jentoft et al., 2012;. 36 demonstrated that although the terrestrial border has been the subject of numerous publication and particularly recently in relation to the Brexit debates, the border bays of Foyle and Carlingford have for the most part, been excluded from these analyses. ...
Full-text available
In academic circles, international maritime boundaries have received renewed interest as a consequence of geopolitically charged events. As marine resources become scarcer, transboundary ecosystems that were previously looked upon as peripheral are increasing in importance. Over 200 maritime boundaries are as yet unresolved due largely to conflicting and entrenched legal or political positions or limited political will to break the impasse. Intractable conflicts that occur in these contexts are highly political, long-term, complex, dynamic and extremely resistant to change despite genuine efforts to resolve them. Whilst some borders have a legally common delimited line agreed by adjoining states through an international agreement, they can be fiercely contested by one side despite a formally agreed framework. In other border areas, when ownership of a territory is disputed, the absence of an agreement on ownership and a clearly defined boundary line creates potential for conflict. Examples of both of these scenarios within the marine environment were examined as in-depth case studies in this thesis. This study addressed the complexity associated with resolving conflicts in contested transboundary marine ecosystems and explored whether agreed maritime boundaries are essential, or whether some resource conflicts can be successfully managed through informal arrangements or resource sharing regimes in contested marine ecosystems. A multi-perspective interdisciplinary meta-analytical framework and timeline mapping technique was applied in two diverse case studies from the Global North and Global South: Lough Foyle separating the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and Palk Bay separating India and Sri Lanka. Primary and secondary data collection included extensive fieldwork in both study sites, desktop research, media content analyses, participatory GIS conflict hot-spot mapping and 67 semi-structured interviews with key informants representing government, industry, the research community and civil society. Trajectory of Change Timelines were developed for both case studies as a tool for the systematic analysis of the protracted conflicts through the identification of parallel historical and geopolitical transformations that have influenced the status quo. Based on the case study findings, a number of prominent contextual factors and uncertainties that drive resource conflicts in contested regions were identified; (i) the footprint of the past: the legacy of colonialism and arbitrarily drawn boundaries; (ii) coastal border regions: the paradox of spatial proximity to neighbouring States and peripherality from the seats of political power; (iii) strategy or apathy: the consequences of political inaction; (iv) the limitations of LOSC and existing theories of environmental governance; (v) the challenges of moving away from traditional approaches based on political boundaries towards integrated ecosystem-based governance. Transboundary environmental governance in these settings is inherently a political process, ultimately determined by the broader historical and geopolitical context, and often subject to apathy or strategy by neighbouring coastal states. Resource conflicts arising from contested marine ecosystems pose insights into a level of complexity and uncertainty in real-world scenarios that fail to align with conventional principles or theoretical best practice frameworks. Political leadership is critical in addressing transboundary issues through cooperative approaches with neighbouring jurisdictions. Conceptual or theoretical best practice frameworks for environmental governance are immaterial if political leaders are not willing to come to the table and agree on pathways to break the impasse. The following evidence-based insights for future governance options of contested marine ecosystems were formulated within the context of current geopolitical realities: breaking the political deadlock by re- framing the issue; ‘agreeing to agree’ by reaching a bilateral agreement supported and implemented by both Governments on a mutually acceptable boundary line; or ‘agreeing to disagree’ on boundary delimitation but cooperating through a joint development scheme.
... The uncertainties, related to the diversity of governing systems and systemsto-be-governed play an important role here. Human societies, although cognizant of and responsive to the characteristics of natural systems, possesses their own dynamics (Bavinck and Salagrama 2008). It is therefore imperative to establish a match between the needs and capacities represented by the systems-to-be-governed and the governing 13 ...
... Looking at it another way, depth of solutions is also about improving governability as a whole. By finding a match between the capacity of the governing system, and the needs of the system-to-be-governed, solutions can be devised by taking into account the diversity found within both the systems (Bavinck and Salagrama, 2008). In the case mentioned above, this diversity can refer to the socioeconomic standing of the target population, or the unpredictability of climatic events calling for innovative solutions and preemptive measures for resilience building. ...
... We use Bavinck & Salagrama's (2008) conceptualization of the system-to-be-governed as a framework to describe the fisheries in Tanguí. This system includes characteristics of the ecosystem that support the fisheries and characteristics of the fishing economy, the fishers and consumers in the area. ...
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In 1993, Colombia launched a decentralization process granting Black communities collective property rights over territories they had inhabited for centuries. Decentralization was intended to promote inclusive governance, enhance environmental governance in Black communities’ territories, and reduce poverty. This paper presents a qualitative case study of decentralized inland fisheries governance in the country’s largest Community Council. Our results suggest that decentralization policies need to account for particularities of resource systems and community dynamics. Inland fisheries governance poses specific challenges for decentralization because a) ecological dynamics supporting the resource system take place beyond the administrative boundaries of fisheries; b) rivers are public goods in Colombia, and therefore it is impossible to exclude users from accessing them; and c) regulations are not well-enforced in places where fish are sold. This calls for a combined effort from stakeholders with different rights, duties, and capacities within the governance system to coordinate actions for enforcing regulations.
... An impressionistic study comparing the governability of three coastal sectorsaquaculture, capture fisheries and coastal zone management, for example, suggested that governability is likely the highest for aquaculture because of the prevalence of a simpler form of socioeconomic organization (i.e., owner-operators) and mostly low for coastal zones due to the intricate overlap of many human activities and environmental processes . One way to improve governability is then to design the governing system to match the complexity of social-ecological system properties (Bavinck & Salagrama, 2008;Cox, 2012;Scholtens & Bavinck, 2013;Song, 2015a;Young 2002). Under this logic, governability too is posed as a property of the systemsomething that resides in the system, which is to be assessed and its higher value pursued. ...
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Governability is an important concept in the political and environmental social sciences with increasing application to social-ecological systems such as fisheries. Indeed, governability analyses of fisheries and related systems such as marine protected areas have generated innovative ways to implement sustainability ideals. Yet, despite progress made, we argue that there remain limitations in current conceptions of governability that hinder further analytical development and use. By drawing on general systems theory – specifically cybernetics, control, and feedback – we interrogate the conceptual foundations that underpin two key limitations: the need to incorporate the numerous variables that comprise a complex, holistic system into a singular assessment of governability; and the a priori separation of the governor and the governed that precludes analysis of a self-governing situation. We argue that by highlighting the reciprocal nature of a governor-governed relationship and the co-produced understanding of governing capacity and objects, a relational approach to governability is possible. This offers a clearer and more pragmatic understanding of how governors and fishers can make fisheries governable.
... At the same time, it is widely acknowledged that boundaries are http inescapably a social construct, which may be neither aligned with nor respected by ecological and human components essential to fishing. The ensuing spatial mismatches between legal-politico-management boundaries on the one hand and ecological or socio-cultural ones generated by fish and fishers on the other have been identified as a significant institutional pitfall and a governability challenge [7][8][9][10][11], frustrating management efforts and posing threats to the health of fish stocks as well as fisher wellbeing. Real-life repercussions include erosion of communities' adaptive capacity and fishing livelihoods due to a reduction or restriction of traditional fishing spaces [12,13], and exacerbation of non-compliance by fishers who are suddenly labeled as poachers or unwanted migrants [14,15]. ...
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Spatial boundaries have become an indispensable part of regimes and tools for regulating fisheries, with examples including marine protected areas, regional fisheries management organizations and Exclusive Economic Zones. Yet, it is also widely acknowledged that boundaries are a social construct, which may be resisted by both fishers and fish ecology. The ensuing spatial and institutional mismatches have been shown to frustrate management efforts, exacerbating issues of non-compliance and ultimately leading to conflicts and overfishing. Interestingly, the often static and rigid nature of these boundaries has also led to a concomitant research interest in ‘transboundary’. This paradoxical situation of more boundary-setting entailing more transboundary thinking warrants a deeper understanding about boundaries and the role of transboundary research in fisheries. The aims of this review article are twofold: (1) a theoretical clarification on the meanings and uses of spatial boundaries drawing on geographical “boundary studies” literature; and (2) a construction of a typology that outlines how transboundary research is being articulated and envisioned. Together, the study reveals that transboundary scholarship in fisheries are mostly related to resources, fleets, trade and governance aspects and that dealing with the “boundary paradox” encompasses re-incorporating, re-scaling and re-imagining of boundaries. This article provides a conceptual basis for reflecting upon boundaries in world's fisheries and opens up discussions for a more nuanced boundary application that can better cope with multi-level interactions and dynamicity.
The widespread degradation of coral reefs is often attributed to local to global failures of governance. To understand and address the failures of reef governance it is critical to understand the perceptions of diverse policymakers and practitioners about the challenges they face in achieving their goals. Examining the discourse of policymakers and practitioners can reveal the extent to which these perceptions capture the full spectrum of potential governance challenges, including those related to management, institutional structures and processes, the values and principles underpinning governance, and the social and environmental context. This study examined the governance challenges perceived by 110 policymakers and practitioners across multiple sectors, scales and contexts in four countries of the Wider Caribbean Region. Thematic qualitative analysis informed by theories of interactive governance and governability found that perceived challenges were broadly consistent across countries, but differed by sector (V = 0.819, F(6, 60) = 1.502, p = 0.01) and by level (community compared to national; V = 0.194, F(1, 10) = 2.178, p = 0.026). The findings show that management inputs and outputs, challenges relating to the socio-economic context, issues of leadership and power, and stakeholder engagement were common themes. In contrast, few respondents discussed challenges relating to the ecological context, governance processes, or the values and principles underpinning governance. We argue that examining perceptions can inform both efforts to improve governance and to assess the appropriateness of particular management tools under context-specific governance constraints. Furthermore, expanding the narratives of governance challenges to encompass the subtle values and images underpinning governance, and the scale of the challenges faced, can help to identify a wider set of opportunities for change. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Policy makers are faced with the challenge of improving how small-scale fisheries are governed. Governance is here understood beyond the rule of law, transparent and accountable government and a vibrant civil society which capacitates its citizens to claim their rights. The chapter broadens this understanding to include interactions among governors. By presenting a case study of Lake Victoria small-scale fisheries in Tanzania, the genesis of how the fisheries were governed and how fisher communities around the lake have been self-governing are traced. Using the interactive governance framework, I discuss the quality of local fishers self-governing on the one hand and co-governance on the other hand. The latter is tracked from when the government started to manage the fisheries. The chapter therefore examines the impact of the government’s intervention on the self-governance of fisher communities. The argument made is that achieving high governability will require an arrangement that borrows institutional understanding from established local practices in fisher communities and combining these, in a practical manner, with professional understanding of management institutions, which are easily adopted by governments.
This chapter presents the conceptual foundations of governability and interactive governance upon which it is based. Interactive governance is a theoretical perspective that emphasizes the governing roles of state, market and civil society. Interactions between these realms are argued to be an important factor in the success or failure of whatever governance takes place. Governability refers to the quality of governance in a societal field, such as fisheries. Diversity, complexity, dynamics and scale are argued to be major variables influencing the governability of societal systems and their three components: a system-to-be-governed, a governing system and a system of governing interactions mediating between the two.
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This collection of essays is about tourism and social, political, and economic relations in coastal locations in various parts of the world. The starting point of each chapter is the ethnographic study of one particular place. However, the authors are also concerned with wider regional, national, and global forces which shape and influence the local economies and societies under review. Although most of the essays focus on the European coastline, the book is intended to have implications for other geographical areas. In most parts of the world, coastal settlements and contexts are changing rapidly and markedly. These contexts are routinely characterised by conflict between different interest groups contesting the ownership and control of the foreshore and its resources. One of the threads running through the volume is that coastal regions are often sites of fishing and related 'traditional' activities. The chapters discuss the relationships between traditional stakeholders, such as fishermen and local residents, and new stakeholders including new residents, second-home owners, tourists and tourism property developers, and fish farm managers as they vie for status, influence, and ultimately for space on the foreshore. The underlying preoccupation of the volume as a whole is the extent of penetration and transformation resulting from the onward march of capitalism and the market system in the coastal locations studied.
The chapters focus on three main themes: first, what value does stakeholder participation bring to fisheries governance? Its advocates claim that participation improves the quality of decision-making; resolves conflicts; and increases compliance with regulations. On the other hand, critics argue that participation is often unnecessary, ineffective, costly, time-consuming, and cosmetic. The second theme is the relationship between the participatory mode and the current switch from single species-based fisheries management to the ecosystem-based approach (EBA). In what way does widening the extent of public participation contribute to the EBA? Third is the vexed question of the relationship between fishers’ experiential knowledge and fisheries science: how far does fishers’ knowledge improve our understanding of the marine environment? The central message of the book is that while stakeholder participation is beneficial, it carries with it responsibilities as well as rights: all stakeholders have a public duty to act as stewards for the marine environment.