Addressing Cross-scale Governance in the Alignment of Marine Fisheries Harvest and Conservation Objectives within a U.S. Community
Copps, Stephen Lalor
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Marine EBM in the U.S. calls for moving from sector-based governance to integrated governance. Integration at large scales reduces the potential for collective action because transaction costs may exceed the benefits of participation in an integrated regime. Community-based approaches have been recognized and promoted throughout the world as a means of controlling scale and transaction costs, and achieving the goals of marine EBM. Such approaches are rare in the U.S. where governance of the marine environment is top-down and uncoordinated between sectors. I used participant observation and elite interviews to examine issues related to the design and performance of a community based governance regime for marine fisheries in a multi-scaled, sector-based institutional setting typical of the U.S. An innovative project led in part by the Nature Conservancy in Morro Bay, California was selected as a case study. I asked how the present institutional setting facilitates or impedes governance at the local level; and, how integration at the local level is affecting perceptions of empowerment and self-determination of local stakeholders? In addition, I identified obstacles and opportunities for locally scaled governance of the marine environment to be deployed in the U.S. I found that, while limited to a single sector (i.e. fisheries), the case study exhibits integration across interest groups and governance scales. Prior to integration efforts, the subject community experienced dis-empowerment due to shifting institutional goals, top-down governance, scientific legitimacy issues, and regulatory uncertainty. Increased empowerment resulted from integration, collaboration, and the capacity to effectively participate in governance regimes across governance scales. The project appears to demonstrate the potential for local governance to be an improvement over the status quo; however, finer scaled resource assessments and a re-alignment of the institutional setting may be necessary to empower local communities and foster community-based approaches. A critical institution that may be a long-term obstacle to community-based approaches in the U.S. is the Public Trust Doctrine. The Public Trust Doctrine ensures local resources are open to non-local appropriation and allows for free-riding. Integrated governance is central to Marine Ecosystem-based Management; however, integration at coastal scales can be expected to increase transaction costs and reduce the potential for beneficial collective action. This research suggests that binding governance to human communities in the U.S. may successfully control transaction costs and foster an integrated approach. For community-based approaches to succeed however, it will be necessary to push back a thick institutional structure that was not established to support local governance.
- Marine affairs