Private rights, co-management and the stewardship of natural resources

Presented by: Patrick Gilmour, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

When: Thursday, 21 st February 2013; 12:00 to 13:00 hrs.

Where: Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville.

Abstract: One of the key challenges facing fishery managers, policy-makers and researchers has been designing management systems that encourage fishers to act sustainably. Catch shares and co-management are two approaches that have received increasing attention in recent years, but how they function to shape behaviour is poorly understood. In this presentation, I discuss five cases of co-management from abalone fisheries in southeast Australia. All are managed through individual transferable quotas and each industry group has, to varying degrees, voluntarily increased size limits, reduced quotas or implemented additional management practices above and beyond government regulations. Taking these initiatives as markers of stewardship, I explore here the factors that have influenced their implementation and differing levels of success. Data was collected from semi-structured interviews, observations of collaborative management workshops and a structured survey of fishing industry members. At the group level, perceptions of the resource condition and levels of cooperative capacity both appeared to be important factors, correlating closely with the extent of management initiatives. At the stakeholder level, contract divers, who have little financial stake in the fishery, held more conservative management views than did quota-owners—a complete contrast to standard assumptions about the role of private rights. These results both highlight opportunities for policy interventions and raise questions about how property rights are specified in modern commercial fisheries.

Biography: Initially trained as a marine ecologist, Patrick recently completed a PhD on the social dynamics of fisheries management. His research sought to understand what helped and hindered efforts by commercial fishers to manage their fisheries more sustainably. Prior to this, Patrick spent three years at a marine environmental consulting firm where he worked on the Port Phillip Bay Channel Deepening Project and managed Parks Victoria’s marine biodiversity monitoring program. Patrick has also worked as a researcher for the Australian Conservation Foundation’s sustainable seafood assessment program, for the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute investigating corporate sustainability reporting, and for the University of Melbourne’s sustainability team. His other interests include trying to stay upright on surfboards and mountain bikes.

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