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The Forum of the Patos Lagoon : subtitle an analysis of co-management arrangement for conservation of coastal resources in southern Brazil Kalikoski, Daniela C.

Abstract

Fisheries are often referred to as a common pool resource (CPR) in which exclusion is difficult and resource use involves subtractability. In the estuary of the Patos Lagoon, Southern Brazil, artisanal fisheries management has faced a crisis which brought forth a co-management regime, represented by a Forum, to manage fisheries CPRs. The objectives of the thesis were to analyse the implementation of the Forum arrangement and to recommend ways to strengthen the comanagement process. The analysis centred on the evaluation of the process of decision making for joint use; the role of science and local knowledge in institutional learning; and the congruence between environmental institutions and the conservation of fisheries CPRs. Methods of investigation involved literature review, document analysis, open-ended interviews, closed-ended survey, and participation at the Forum meetings. The Forum represents a move towards a sharing of responsibility and authority on local fisheries management supported by government decentralisation policy. Different stakeholders are now locally involved in the governance of artisanal fisheries in the region. However, the devolution of power to fisher communities is still hampered by the weak involvement of fishers in the Forum and by external influences at government levels. The creation of the Forum has attempted to minimise the problem of fit between institutions and resource conditions. Mismatches still persist, particularly in the definition of access boundaries to resource use, in the design of harvest practices adapted to environmental characteristics, and in the lack of a broader systemic approach to fisheries management. In this context, this study proposes a larger role for fishers knowledge in the comanagement regime, given its potential contribution to the design of sustainable fishing practices for the region. Accomplishments were observed. The Forum has had important outcomes and gained legitimacy. Small-scale fisheries management has become a more transparent process in which management rights have become explicit and openly discussed. The Forum represents a transition in resource management paradigms towards one that is more participatory, in tune with the functions of ecosystems and based on social mechanisms that facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information necessary to build a resilient socialecological system.

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