Marine governance

‘Glocal drivers, local solutions and (inter)national support?
Unravelling marine governance in Fiji and Solomon Islands’

The inhabitants of Melanesia have extensive records of close interaction with their natural environment. Customary marine tenure systems to manage use, access, and transfer of marine resources have evolved a long time ago and have been passed on for generations. However, coastal and marine social-ecological systems are changing. Global drivers as well as local stressors are threatening ecosystem health and fish abundance, representing a serious risk for local food security. On the other hand socio-economic developments are shifting socio-cultural relations at the local level and challenging customary governance approaches. Enforcement and compliance denote an increasing challenge for communities and their marine tenure practices. Moreover, legal recognition of and support from the national level for these practices vary – which raises the question about the interactions between local customary marine governance and the national legal marine governance framework. Drawing on a qualitative case study approach, this study examines sites in the Melanesian countries Fiji and Solomon Islands. It seeks to analyze:

1)  main features and drivers of community-based marine resource management (CBMRM);

2) drivers of (non-)compliance with and barriers to enforcement of CBMRM;

3) how the national legal marine governance frameworks and customary/ community-based marine management efforts influence, (dis-) connect to, and support or hinder each other;

4) how roles within and perceptions of CBMRM differ between women and men and how this translates into different behaviour (gender perspective).

This research seeks  to identify main potentials and challenges of marine governance at the local, subnational and national level. Understanding marine governance arrangements and their social and ecological effects can contribute to ensuring long-term food security for fishing-dependent coastal communities in Melanesia as well as to maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.

This study draws from an analytical framework for social-ecological systems as well as from compliance theory and legal pluralism. It aims to contribute to ongoing marine governance debates and, in a broader context, to discussions about achieving sustainable human-nature relations, or social-ecological dynamics, in the long run.

Research draws from qualitative social sciences methods and mainly consists of semi-structured interviews (with resources users at the local level as well as with key stakeholders from government and civil society involved in marine governance at the national and subnational level) and focus groups. Secondary data and documents (e.g., national laws and policies, action plans, management plans) serve as additional source of information.



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