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Governing fisheries through the critical decade: the role and utility of polycentric systems

Cvitanovic, C ORCID: 0000-0002-2565-3396, Hobday, AJ, McDonald, J ORCID: 0000-0002-7953-1458, Van Putten, EI and Nash, KL ORCID: 0000-0003-0976-3197 2018 , 'Governing fisheries through the critical decade: the role and utility of polycentric systems' , Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, vol. 28, no. 1 , pp. 1-18 , doi: 10.1007/s11160-017-9495-9.

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The next 10 years are considered a criticaldecade for fisheries. Declining fish stocks in combinationwith mounting climate pressure are likely tolead to significant and adverse socio-ecologicalimpacts, threatening sustainability. Responding tothese challenges requires modes of governance thatare capable of dealing with the complexity anduncertainty associated with the world’s fisheries andtheir ecosystems. While a range of governanceframeworks exist, the concept of polycentric governancehas gained prominence in the environmentalsector and is posited as a key principle underpinningthe resilience of complex socio-ecological systems.However, the application of polycentric governance tofisheries management has been seldom explored. To examine this prospect, we review the literature onpolycentric governance to elucidate its potential valuein improving the outlook for fisheries and theirassociated ecosystems. We highlight a number ofunique characteristics that overcome known limitationsin other forms of governance—polycentricsystems are highly participatory and promote thebroadest levels of stakeholder involvement, theyincrease policy freedom at the local level, and theyimprove the spatial fit between knowledge, action andsocio-ecological contexts to ensure that governanceresponses are implemented at the most appropriatescale. Through fisheries case-studies, we demonstratethat these characteristics are important in helpingfisheries respond to complex challenges. Finally, wearticulate key knowledge gaps that should beaddressed through future research to understand theconditions under which polycentric governance systemsare most suited, and the ways in which they canbe operationalised most effectively.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Cvitanovic, C and Hobday, AJ and McDonald, J and Van Putten, EI and Nash, KL
Keywords: governance, fisheries, learning, networks, research needs, stakeholder participation
Journal or Publication Title: Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publ
ISSN: 0960-3166
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s11160-017-9495-9
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 Springer International Publishing AG

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