Buenas Prácticas (Chile)

Artisanal fisheries co-management system of governance in Latin American countries: the Chilean case


In convergence with the objectives of the GESRE program, an interesting approach has gained strength in recent years (decades) at the continental level, regarding the management and governance of natural resources: participatory governance systems, or co-management systems. The fisheries sector, especially the craft sector, is one of the main witnesses of the results of the application of different formulas of co-management system. The fishing sector is important in relation to its employment generating capacity. It is estimated that the artisanal or small scale fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean involves more than 2 million fishermen with a level of increased production of 2.5 million tons, and production values of approximately USD 3,000 million every year . Some studies refer to an overexploitation syndrome, especially in industrial fisheries. Almost half of fishery resources subject to industrial fisheries in the world are being taken to the limit of its capacity and the remaining quarter are overexploited or already collapsed (FAO, 2009). As in the case of industrial fisheries, a growing number of Latin American artisanal fisheries are fully exploited or overexploited (Castilla and Defeo, 2001; Carranza et al., 2009).

The co-management system: an interesting governance tool

One of the solutions to the problems of overexploitation in the use of fisheries resources has been carried out by the approach of participatory governance. The co-management of artisanal fisheries has been advocated as a governance structure that provides potential solutions to reverse the trend of overexploitation and inadequate management in artisanal fisheries. In Latin America, there are some applications of a system of co-management of artisanal fisheries, the interest of this model is that each application is different from the other, and each sets its own rules to the peculiarities of the territory, the resource, the stakeholders, etc. The co-management is an institutional and formalized management by which effective cooperation is established between the government and fishing communities, who share the rights in the exercise of resource management. Through this strategy the fishermen are included in decision-making processes, and in the control and monitoring of fishery resources (Wilson et al., 2003), a co-responsibility which is institutionalized in the respective legal framework (Armitage et al., 2007). Indeed, there is no one simple definition of co-management, but rather a continuum of possible co-management arrangements that differ according to the degree of power allocated to the communities in their relationship with the government (Sen and Nielsen Raakjaer, 1996; Armitage et al., 2007).

Co-management systems: successful cases in LAC: Chile, el loco (Conchapelas concholepas)

The well-known Chilean loco (Concholepas concholepas), also called “Chilean abalone”, is a marine gastropod mollusk, used in Chilean cuisine and is marketed worldwide as a delicacy. Its economic value and ecological importance as top predator have made the loco the most studied marine invertebrate species in Chile. Due to overfishing, in Chile the harvesting of this species has been limited by law since 1989.

In this context, a co-management system has been established -a cooperative type- where the responsibility for the design and implementation of management plans correspond to predetermined areas, as well as resource evaluation systems of control, monitoring, surveillance and management measures, which are shared between the government authority and the fishing communities.

Available information shows that the implementation of these areas (zoning), along with other operational management measures, have brought with them the following benefits (Defeo y Castilla, 2005, Castilla et al., 2007): 1) The Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) and size of individual loco have increased over time during the implementation of the management areas (1993-2001) – with respect to the phase of open access to the fishery (1982-1992) and compared with existing open access areas in this new phase 2) the total catch made during the management areas throughout Chile is low and sustainable, presenting levels which are similar to those made in the initial development phase of the fishery, and 3) the unit price (P) paid by the product increased significantly during this phase with respect to the fishing phase prior to the implementation of the zoning.

Source: Defeo O., Castilla J., Castrejón M. 2009. Pesquerías artesanales de invertebrados en América Latina: paradigmas emergentes de manejo y gobernanza. Foro Iberoam. Rec. Mar.Acui. II: 89-117

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