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Journal of Political Ecology:
Case Studies in History and Society
VOLUME 5 (1998)
in the World's Fisheries: Lessons for Modern Fisheries Management,
Christopher L. Dyer and James R. McGoodwin, editors. 1994. Niwot, CO:
University Press of Colorado. xiv, 339 pp.
Reviewed by Patricia M. Clay, National Marine Fisheries Service, Woods Hole, MA.
This is a well-written book that
addresses two questions currently debated hotly in fishery management
circles: How do we address the worldwide decline in fishery resources?
and To what extent can and should fisherfolk have a significant voice
in the management process?
Offered as one possible response
to both is the concept of "folk management." Folk management,
as defined by this volume's editors, is related to such terms as "indigenous
management," "community-based management," and "bottom-up
management." Whereas these other terms are often primarily based
on the management of space (that is, systems of tenure), Dyer and McGoodwin
regard folk management as more broadly encompassing, also including effort
limitation and stock productivity enhancement. Folk management is part
of a people's fishing "technology," broadly construed, and includes
an ideational component.
This volume seeks to document cases
of folk management worldwide, to analyze the components of their success
or failure, and to offer these insights to modern fishery managers in
hopes of contributing to a more collaborative form of fisheries management--what
has been described in much recent literature and some of the case studies
in this volume as "co-management." Case studies are presented
primarily from the Americas, but touching on several continents and including
diverse fishing regimes. Pomeroy writes about institutional arrangements
across multiple jurisdictions in the highland Lake Chapala district of
Mexico, whereas McGoodwin presents another Mexican case from the rural
Pacific coast. Cases presented by Palmer and Felt are from the North Atlantic,
whereas Gill examines Alaskan salmon fisheries in the wake of the Exxon
Valdez oil spill. Fisheries on the U.S. Gulf Coast are the subject of
discussions by Dyer and Leard and by Ward and Weeks. Stoffle et al. examine
artisanal fishing in the Dominican Republic. Jentoft and Mikalsen describe
fjord fishing in coastal Norway, whereas cases presented by Ruddle and
Anderson are from Southeast Asia and China, respectively. Though an additional
Asian or European case study would have improved the volume's geographic
coverage, the examples cover a broad range of system types and theoretical
perspectives, drawing on references as varied as Elinor Ostrom, Roy Rappaport,
and Mary Douglas.
One especially useful feature is
the "Lessons for Modern Fisheries Management" section at the
end of each chapter. This section summarizes the key points as numbered
bullets--a sort of "Executive Summary." My only quibble with
these "Lessons" is that they include little contextual or ethnographic
data. If the idea is to give managers the option of reading only these
portions, then the proposed goal of "knowing more about folk management"
is only partially achieved. This caveat is tempered, however, by acknowledging
the need for generalizations and overarching theory to be making sense
of the recent profusion of case studies. Both the "Lessons"
and Pinkerton's "Summary and Conclusions" chapter address that
In that vein, Pinkerton asks two
questions: "What are the minimum conditions under which one could
expect folk management or co-management to arise?" and "What
are the main vulnerabilities of a co-management or folk management system
to be undermined?" Using the ethnographic case studies in the volume
and recent theory on institution building and resource management, she
then formulates 20 testable hypotheses, and summarizes the policy lessons
and implications overall. This poses a challenge to other social science
fisheries researchers. By seeking to test her hypotheses, we can advance
the current state of theory. This is an area where anthropologists in
particular must make improvements: if anthropological insights are to
be accepted in management and policy-making, they must include clearly
testable predictions of behavior.
In fact, anthropologists and related
social scientists have only recently begun to be included in many nations'
fishery management institutions, and their potential contributions are
often little understood. Although one case study (Ward and Weeks) specifically
addresses the interactions of managers (primarily field biologists) and
fisherfolk, it would have been useful to also see more discussion of how
better to articulate the interdependent roles of biologists and social
scientists. In the "Introduction," the editors state that fisheries
management must address both resource conservation and allocation. They
further add: "Obviously, the first problem is mainly one for marine
biologists." Given that the conservation and allocation dimensions
are inextricably linked in most of the volume's case studies, this statement
seems to be as much an attempt to calm biologists' fears as a statement
of appropriate division of labor and collaborative effort. Perhaps "collaboration"
is the subject for another volume.
Minor caveats aside, overall the book is a welcome addition to the literature on co-management and common property resources. Aimed at both social scientists and fisheries managers with marine biology backgrounds, it manages to combine sound fisheries and social science without being so technical that it excludes the nonspecialist.