Governability of High-Value Fisheries in Low-Income Contexts: a Case Study of the Sea Cucumber Fishery in Papua New Guinea

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Human Ecology, 2019, 47 (3), pp. 381 - 396
Issue Date:
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© 2019, The Author(s). High demand and prices in global markets for luxury seafood fished by coastal communities in low-income contexts causes overfishing. There are few alternatives for fishers to earn money, most institutions for controlling effort are weak, and markets are beyond the control of fishing states. The mismatch between desires for development and governance measures to enable that development is shared across many high-value low-income contexts. Using the sea cucumber fishery of Papua New Guinea as an example, this paper illustrates how the interactive governance framework provides a holistic approach to revealing governability limits and opportunities. Analysis of the system to be governed demonstrates that development for coastal communities is fundamental to the fishery as a motivating force and as a principle legitimising actions within the fishery and its management. This analysis highlights the fact that fisheries management is based on the assumption that an open fishery will lead to development, due to its economic value. However, money does not equal development. For this and other similar fisheries to increase development in coastal communities, issues not usually considered within the purview of the management of fisheries must be addressed, including gendered and intergenerational decision-making and income distribution, financial planning and government provision of infrastructure and services.
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