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Fishery co-management; a sustainable way to develop fisheries?

Mastrigt, A. van (2013) Fishery co-management; a sustainable way to develop fisheries? Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Mismanagement of fisheries is one of the main reasons for the critical situation fisheries face today. Therefore, there is a demand for new management strategies that can help to develop sustainable fisheries. One of these new upcoming governance approaches in fisheries is co-management. Co- management is a governance arrangement where resource users are involved in the decision making process. It aims to develop sustainable fisheries by integrating the ecology of the fishery system with the social and economic aspects associated with the fisheries. This is something that centralized ‘top-down’ management forms of governance have often failed to address. This study aims to assess whether co-management indeed does lead to more sustainable fisheries using Lake Vättern as its case study. Lake Vättern is a unique, deep, oligotrophic lake situated in southern Sweden with a long tradition of both household and commercial fisheries. The fish catch statistics have shown a gradually declining trend since the 1970’s. In the early 21st century, the commercially important Arctic char and whitefish reached alarmingly low levels due to over exploitation. As a consequence of these declining catches and poor stock statuses, an entire suite of new fisheries regulations was implemented. During this time period a co-management group was also founded by the Lake Vättern Water Society to bring stakeholders together and resolve ongoing conflicts. The new fisheries regulations have been considered successful, but an unanticipated problem arose. The fish populations have shown signs of recovering in Lake Vättern and are currently in better conditions, but the new regulations on commercial fisheries prevents the fishermen from exploiting some of the stocks. Due to the stringent fishing regulations and the high profit made off of crayfish, the fisheries have become mostly dependent on the exploitation of signal crayfish. The co-management group has been a relatively successful arrangement as it is one of the three pilot projects that continued to exist after the trial period, from the six that were initiated. Clearly defined boundaries, a variety of stakeholders, a skilled chairman, a long-term vision and good communication about goals and means are characteristics that mark the success of the co- management arrangement. The sustainability of the fisheries in Lake Vättern was assessed using an interdisciplinary rapid appraisal technique (RAPFISH) analyzing the time period 1994-2012. Results from the RAPFISH show that the sustainability score of the commercial fishery in Lake Vättern has improved since the onset of the new regulations and the formation of the co- management group in 2004. The sustainability score mostly improved for the ecological and social aspects concerning the fishery. No apparent trends for economic and/or technological attributes were shown within this time frame. From the analysis it can be concluded that the co-management group mostly contributed to an enhanced social sustainability and possibly indirectly influenced the ecological sustainability. The positive trend in the ecological sustainability is best explained by the implementation of the new fishery regulations. The future of Lake Vättern shows an increase in exploitation from recreational fishermen, a possible decrease in the crayfish population and the potential to exploit a larger variety of commercial fish species. My suggestion for the fishery in Lake Vättern to continue in a sustainable manner is to improve the economic environment of the fishery whilst conserving the fish stocks and maintaining a positive social environment. This can possibly be achieved by implementing methods that increase the profitability from the commercial fish species.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:54
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:54

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