Robert Arthur: Complex Dynamic Systems and Resource Management: Exploring the Practical Potential of ‘Safe Fail’ Experiments in Community Managed Fisheries
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Robert Arthur: Complex Dynamic Systems and Resource Management: Exploring the Practical Potential of ‘Safe Fail’ Experiments in Community Managed Fisheries

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Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice ...

Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice

http://www.steps-centre.org/events/stepsconference2010.html

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  • Community fisheries generally represent a change in waterbody use. Community fisheries fit with government objectives and ideology
  • Assumptions that maximising production will maximise benefits (and development potential) and that it was possible to identify a model that could be extended to other villages and adopted. This was understandable as the waterbodies and villages are, at first glance, fairly homogenous, The results were less than anticipated – the model was not adopted but instead elements of the package were taken up, new institutional arrangements emerged and outcomes were observed that reflected the situation (and nature of the waterbodies) that differed. Three different management strategies emerged – fishing day, group fishing and renting
  • The experience and the continuity of support for the research allowed us to reflect on the process and outcomes of the research. This led to a fundamental shift in the thinking that recognised local capabilities and. Research became not about identifying optimals and trying to predict or control or assume adoption but working with villagers to support their innovation and collectively identify options that villages can use depending on (their changing) circumstances Village innovation was limited by the opportunities to share knowledge with other villages that had been managing community fisheries Learning is also challenged by the dynamic environment that creates uncertainty and makes it difficult to generate information about the systems as it can be difficult to isolate cause and effect - for example, is the high level of production down to the change in stocking density introduced or the effect of a high level of flooding.
  • 1) Based on the lessons that were learned a new research approach was developed that focused on supporting the local innovative capabilities and on linking the 38 villages that were managing or interested in managing community fisheries to enhance learning. But there also needed to be involvement of the government staff (often an overlooked group) who needed to learn more about local needs, opportunities and constraints so that they could provide better advice. 2) This led us to think about knowledge and to consider knowledge as embedded and a consequence of social and personal context. Knowledge appears in action and communication. It was therefore vital that local people had an active role in learning. 3) At the same time there was recognition of the need to ensure the speed of learning and the quality of the information that could be generated – the quality of the evidence for making changes to management and this involved the use of the principles of experimental design and coordinated action across the 38 participating villages. 4) But we also knew that villages have different needs and aspirations and that the community fisheries were different reflecting this. The challenge was to identify information that would be relevent to different contexts. There was a shift from models to menus – information that could have relevance in multiple contexts and enhance local options for management; 5) Experimentation involves risk and there was a need to ensure that the experiments were ‘safe-fail’ in that the outcomes would not disadvantage the participants
  • Democratising science
  • 1) The process involved identifying information that what information was needed and whether this existed and could therefore simply be shared; or whether experimentation (based on scientific principles) could generate the information without excessive cost/risk. 2) The process of identifying experiments was enhanced by the fact that villages were actively stocking and that there was interest in this aspect. 3) Stocking fish was a low risk, ensuring that experiments were safe fail and would not leave any villages any worse off. 4) Passive to examine the costs and benefits of the different management systems (renting, fishing day and group fishing). This would help government promote and villages select appropriate approach.

Robert Arthur: Complex Dynamic Systems and Resource Management: Exploring the Practical Potential of ‘Safe Fail’ Experiments in Community Managed Fisheries Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Presentation at the STEPS Symposium September 2010 Robert Arthur, MRAG Ltd, 18 Queen St, London [email_address]
  • 2.
    • Describe experiences with locally-led ‘safe fail’ experimentation in village-managed fisheries
    • Highlight what we learned about evidence, knowledge and the role of researchers in the context of dynamic complex systems
  • 3.
    • ‘ Community fisheries’ are village-managed local small waterbody fisheries (1-40 ha) managed to get benefits for the whole village;
    • Often the principal, if not only, way villages can generate communal income to improve livelihoods and pursue village development priorities;
    • Management includes access restrictions, technical interventions (stocking and habitat improvement), benefit sharing and conflict resolution arrangements;
    • Great interest in government in promoting community fisheries within villages
  • 4.
    • Highly dynamic: productivity is dependent on the annual ‘flood pulse’; development brings changing needs and aspirations
    • Little existing information about the most appropriate technical measures (care of fish and harvesting strategies);
    • Interdependent social-ecological systems: fishing is mediated by dynamic local institutions
    • High stakes: fisheries important source of household and community food and income
  • 5.
    • Research was initially focused on technical aspects: identifying species and stocking densities that could maximise production;
    • Social aspects recognised as important and research focused on the management arrangements and benefits in ‘successful’ villages;
    • Linear concept of research and uptake focused on identifying and promoting models of success
  • 6.
    • Outcomes are shaped by critical interactions between people and resources at the local level;
    • In systems that are complex and diverse a single model of what to do is limited;
    • Chasing predictability, control and adoption can be frustrating;
    • Local people are innovative and can be ‘drivers of change’ but, being isolated learning is slow;
    • The basis for adaptation – the quality of information or evidence is critical.
  • 7.
    • Knowledge is embedded and does not exist independent of people It is vital that those managing the resources are active in generating and communicating information.
    • Information needs to be generated and shared in an appropriate and timely fashion. There must be the facilitation of information sharing in locally appropriate ways and creation of mechanisms for people to develop their own understandings.
    • Learning must be both demand-led and appropriate. As well as being what villages wanted to know, any information generating activities had to be acceptable in terms of risk.
  • 8.
    • Researchers no longer drive the research but actively support local innovation by engaging local people and government staff as active researchers;
    • Dialogue, facilitation and negotiation become important skills;
    • Application and sharing of design principles to identify ‘safe fail’ experiments;
    • Shift in the model of research and uptake from linear to non-linear systems that require research processes and not outputs;
  • 9.
    • Collectively researchers villages and government staff considered key uncertainties related to management;
    • Negotiation and agreement with all stakeholders of a strategy to meet requirements (and reduce uncertainties);
    • Active and passive experimentation.
  • 10.
    • Knowledge about how technologies perform in the field
    • Villagers and government staff understand the systems and can select and promote options
    • Management becomes more flexible but less predictable
  • 11.
    • 2001/02* Rented
    • 2002/03 Fishing day (difficult to enforce)
    • 2003/04 Rented
    • 2004/05 Open (dry year food scarce)
    • 2005/06 Rented
  • 12.