Sub-theme 11. Advances in Frameworks and Theory
The Vulnerability To Viability Approach: Understanding the processes of building strong small-scale fishery commons
Small-scale fisheries are often characterized as vulnerable, and their viability is a key issue in fisheries governance. However, vulnerability and viability are hard to define. Moreover, these concepts have almost always been treated exclusively, and the inherent linkages between vulnerability and viability have largely remained unaddressed. We use “Vulnerability To Viability (V2V)” as a novel approach and conceptual framing to highlight their interconnected nature and the potential for vulnerable small-scale fisheries to transition towards viability. As such, we recognize V2V as a process that is multidimensional, complex, highly dynamic, and relative, the study of which needs to be inter- and trans-disciplinary.
Recent insights emphasize a three-dimensional view of V2V that includes key measures such as changes in wellbeing, differential access to capitals (e.g., natural, financial) and shifts in resilience. Several related concepts offer additional perspectives on V2V: a social-ecological system view highlights fish-fisher connections; sustainable livelihoods offer necessary framing to understand pathways to transitions; gender and political ecology concepts support examination of critical questions about control, exclusion, inclusion, winners, losers, dominant narratives, strengths and weaknesses; power analysis offers valuable directions to include social relationships, history, politics, and cultural dynamics across multiple scales for empowerment and capacity development; and interactive and multi-level governance promotes understanding of the role of the institutions and decision-making processes along with the values, principles and actions needed.
Through a series of contributed papers, this session aims to further extend the notion of Vulnerability To Viability (V2V) by, first, characterising small-scale fisheries as commons and, second, drawing key elements from the commons theory to further develop the V2V transition approach, and offer conceptual directions on how small-scale fisheries systems can transition from vulnerability to viability.
1. A commons approach to small-scale fisheries transitioning from vulnerability to viability
University of Waterloo, Canada
Strongly anchored in local communities, small-scale fisheries reflect a way of life, and they provide critical contributions to nutrition, food security, poverty alleviation, livelihoods, and local / national economies. Yet, their multiple benefits and contributions are often overlooked as many SSF communities remain economically and politically marginalised, are highly vulnerable to change, and remain invisible in policy debates. Nonetheless, the survivability of many small-scale fisheries suggests certain strengths and forms of resilience. A holistic understanding of what causes vulnerability and what makes small-scale-fisheries viable is required. Even though small-scale fisheries are often characterized as vulnerable, and their viability is a key issue in fisheries governance, both the terms vulnerability and viability are hard to define. Moreover, these concepts have almost always been treated exclusively, and the inherent linkages between vulnerability and viability have largely remained unaddressed. We use “Vulnerability To Viability (V2V)” as a novel approach and conceptual framing to highlight their interconnected nature and the potential for vulnerable small-scale fisheries to transition towards viability. As such, V2V as a process has been recognised as multidimensional, complex, highly dynamic, and relative, the study of which needs to be inter- and trans-disciplinary. This paper aims to further extend the notion of Vulnerability To Viability (V2V) by, first, characterising small-scale fisheries as commons and, second, drawing key elements from the commons theory to further develop the V2V transition approach, and offer conceptual directions on how small-scale fisheries commons can transition from vulnerability to viability.
2. Social resilience in the Sundarbans Delta: Needs-based Grassroots Action leading to transformative change
1University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, Bangladesh, 2Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India, 3University of Lausanne, Switzerland
The Sundarbans, located in the tidally active lower deltaic plain of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basin, hosts the largest contiguous mangrove forest and the only mangrove tiger habitat in the world. It has been a central point of focus in international forums such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change due to the high vulnerability faced by coastal communities here. Small-scale fisherfolk whose livelihoods are entirely dependent on fishing, are undoubtedly among the most impacted groups. Vulnerability is context-specific, which means that it may mean different things to different people. Diverse environmental, social, and administrative challenges that fishermen face have an impact on their productivity and viability.
In this study traversing transboundary Sundarbans, we critique the dominant apocalyptic as well as interventionist conservation discourses and aim to foreground the (trans)local stories of resilience to the global climate risks by bringing to the fore everyday lived realities – struggles, resistance, adaptation and adjustment ‘tactics’ to dwell in the delta. Borrowing from political ecology of risks scholarship, we argue and explain why the ‘multiple disruptive risks’ perspective is historically contingent and socially accommodative over the ‘single disaster’ approach that relies upon mainstream disaster mitigation mechanisms of ‘predict and provide’, projecting communities as passive spectators. Contrary to this capital-intensive, ‘same size fits all’ disaster management, we assert that a ‘social resilience’ framework, accommodating inputs from local communities can unleash possibilities through which sustained solution strategies of dealing with climate risks and ‘dwelling’ in the delta can be forged and fostered.
3. Toward more secure and equitable marine tenure
Independent Practitioner (formerly WorldFish)
Along the world’s coasts of oceans and coasts, societies have relationships with fluid environments and the resources they hold. For centuries, these societies have defined and exercised rights and responsibilities over coastal ecosystems, determining who is allowed to use which resources, in what way, for how long, under what conditions, and how entitlements, responsibilities and cultural values are passed on. This is marine tenure. We present a global scan of the global institutional landscape that influences marine tenure security. We present, for discussion, a proposition to increase the proportion of ocean funding that flows to rights holders, their efforts to secure their rights, and their role in ocean futures.
4. Crafting bottom-up institution in a Zambian Fishery: By-law making in the Kafue Flats, Zambia as a process of constitutionality
1Swiss TPH, Basel, Switzerland, 2Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland
This presentation highlights the process of bottom-up crafting of by-laws to the state fishery laws in Zambia among the Ila, Balundwe and Batwa groups in the Kafue Flats. This case study was among the initial empirical cases informing the development of a concept called ‘constitutionality’ as a conscious process of rule-making and an alternative to top-down driven environmental governmentality in a Foucauldian sense (Haller et al 2016). It explores gendered local common property fishery institutions stemming from pre-colonial times and the process of institutional change from common to state property and the open access situation created by the failure of the state to enforce rules. Based on these conditions the local perception of that change and the process of local bottom-up institution building towards a sense of ownership of the institution building process will be highlighted with a special focus on gender specific power relations. The role of the researchers as well as the process of crafting new rules will be discussed, which appears in a situation of the paradox of the state being present and absent at the same time: Present as owner of the resource and thus all citizens of Zambia claim access. Absent because the state does not have the financial means for monitoring and sanctioning, leading to a de facto open access and to massive decline of the resource. Furthermore, we underline that for this process the issue that bargaining power within communities are very heterogeneous are therefore a major challenge to a fair process of the crafting of institutions. The presentation explains the main factors addressing these power disparities. In addition the case study reveals three new elements: The newly crafted institutions developed by local actors a) go beyond pure resource governance issues but include other areas related to fisheries (health and sanitation), b) address vital gender power relations and c) show high innovation potential to interrelate governance issues that are locally important but not addressed in fragmented state governance.