This Enabling Better Management of Fisheries Conflict project, henceforth called the Project, studied the conflicts affecting the interest of poor capture fishers and stakeholders in three developing countries in South and Southeast Asia — Bangladesh, Cambodia and India. The approaches to fisheries management were not without problems when implemented, hence, conflict managers and policy makers are also included among the targeted stakeholders in this study. Conflicts arose due to diversity of interests, values, priorities and manners of exploitation amongst resource users. Conflicts also emanate from institutional failures in managing the fisheries and enforcing laws and regulations.
The Project aimed to benefit the poor by communicating participatory application of improved practices in conflict management, consensus building and institutional assessment to fishery constituents, from fishers to policy makers. In particular, these improved conflict management practices are embodied in the three main products developed by the Project through the fulfilment of the four planned thematic outputs. The first product is the \"Fisheries Conflicts Communication Framework (FishCom)\" where each step of the communication framework assembled the corresponding tools and means designed to ensure the promotion of institutions, and practices and tools for managing fisheries conflicts amongst stakeholders. The testing and application of FishCom in study sites in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India demonstrated that fisheries conflicts could be managed through an organized communication process involving groups of stakeholders. Communication interventions, such as multi-stakeholder workshops, forum and training, applied in study sites led to some attitudinal changes essential in conflict resolution and consensus building. The second product is the draft Participatory Action Plan Development (PAPD)-Based Consensus Building Tool: A Facilitator Guide prepared, in collaboration with the Center for Natural Resources Studies (CNRS) in Bangladesh, arising from the second component of the project on consensus building. The third product is a draft Policy Brief on Managing Fisheries Conflicts: Communication and Consensus Building in South and Southeast Asia. The brief evaluated and compiled the lessons intended primarily for uptake by policy makers, researchers, academicians and the wider public. Also appended are questionnaires for primary stakeholders and conflict managers.
The process of validating the three main products above through training and a field trial in new sites also the honed skills of a range of stakeholders — fishers, village leaders, researchers, policy-makers and law enforcers — in assuming roles of conflict managers. Those involved in this dissemination and uptake helped establish the lessons gained from the action plan development and consensus-building training in Agcharan village in Tangail, Bangladesh and the trial in Sakthikulangara village in Kerala, India.
The Project, together with country partners, had occasional engagements with a network of NGOs in field activities that links local organizations to the DFID and the WorldFish Center pathway towards building global partnership for development and influencing fisheries management policies. The dissemination of conflict management framework through organized multi-stakeholder processes helped improve policies and practices on the functioning of institutions. In view of the welcome involvement of groups of stakeholders, the dissemination framework also helped diminish undesirable and unsustainable management decisions and fishing practices that are typical causes of most conflicts. With less conflict, the poor could then focus on engaging in environmentally sustainable livelihoods while obtaining support from responsible institutions in natural resource management.
This Project benefited from uptake of two DFID-funded research projects on conflicts and consensus building. The Participatory Action Plan Development (PAPD, R7562) was adapted, tested and promoted as a consensus-building tool through training and field trial. The Participatory Institutional Survey of Conflict Evaluation Exercise (PISCES, R7334), applied in study sites in Bangladesh and India, proved as useful tool for collecting information on conflicts among small-scale fishers and was adapted in FishCom developed by this Project.
WorldFish Center, Malaysia, 91 pp.