Participation in Fisheries Management for Improved Livelihoods of Artisanal Fisheries Communities in West Africa
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A number of trends can be identified which are conducive to increased collaboration between fishers and government in fisheries management measures, as well as for an increased attention for livelihoods aspects. On the fishers’ side there are already existing (though not generally ‘traditional’) rules and committees governing fishing and there is an increasing awareness in communities for the need to protect stocks. The government has increasing interest in artisanal fisheries and already existing processes of consultation with fishers for the elaboration of management measures. In addition there are ongoing decentralisation processes which promote sharing of responsibilities with local institutions for the management of natural resources and already existing participatory mechanisms such as local fisheries councils and communitybased fisheries management committees. However, a number of factors complicate increased collaboration and consensus-building between fishers and government in fisheries management measures and attention for livelihoods aspects. Different groups of fishers and processors with different interests make collaboration difficult. There is a history of strained relations between fishers and government authorities. The authorities themselves have been unable or unwilling to enforce already existing laws, a situation complicated by unclear mandates or de facto division of tasks between different government organisations concerned with fisheries and maritime affairs. Finally, communication, financing and staffing of government agencies are not always sufficient for responsible fisheries management.
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