Good fishing community neighbors are hard to come by

Researchers who conducted a study of 89 East Africa fishing communities say they found good neighbors who agree with common proposals to improve shared fisheries management are hard to find.

Authors of the newly published paper found that neighborliness appears to depend on predictable factors such as activities proposed perceptions of the costs and benefits, and the national historical context of development and conflicts.

The study is a first-of-its kind to examine perceptions of fisheries restrictions between neighboring communities in four African countries who share fishing grounds.

They also concluded that some proposals for improving fishing can probably be handled by friendly get-togethers, but others require larger scales of governance and less-friendly enforcement.  The implication, they said, is that achieving global fisheries sustainability will need some combination of informal agreements and consequential enforcement for those failing to comply.

Researchers knew from previous work that perceptions of restriction benefits within fishing communities could be strong for some low-cost restrictions such as minimum sizes at capture and allowable fishing gears.

This study addressed whether these same perceptions would match when looking at a community’s nearest neighbors and for larger scale management recommendations such as restrictions of species capture and protected areas.


According to researcher Tim McClanahan, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, perceptions of fairness and justice were at the core of disagreements.

The study, “Demographic variability and scales of agreement and disagreement over resource management restrictions,” appears online in the journal Ecology and Society.

News of the study by McClanahan and C.A. Abunge, also of the Wildlife Conservation Society, based on interview with nearly 2,000 marine fishers from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar, was released by EurekAlert, the online publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.