Re-defining co-management to facilitate small-scale fisheries reform: An illustration from northwest Mexico

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© 2014.Small-scale fisheries face a suite of multi-level challenges, making the reliance on centralized governance approaches and self-governance alone unlikely to lead to long enduring solutions. Although co-management has been long proposed as a promising institutional arrangement, co-management can take many forms; thus, not any type of co-management will be effective for the suite of challenges facing small-scale fisheries today. This paper argues for moving beyond traditional conceptualizations of co-management, to [U+05F3]multi-level co-management,[U+05F3] in order to explicitly emphasize the principles of power devolution based on subsidiarity, cooperative partnerships, democratic participatory involvement, polycentricity, and governance networks. The experience of Northwest Mexico is used to illustrate the potential, opportunities, and barriers in achieving multi-level co-management in an effort to contribute to the constructive dialogue developing around the world, and in the region, on small-scale fisheries governance reform.






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Finkbeiner, EM, and X Basurto (2015). Re-defining co-management to facilitate small-scale fisheries reform: An illustration from northwest Mexico. Marine Policy, 51. pp. 433–441. 10.1016/j.marpol.2014.10.010 Retrieved from

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Xavier Basurto

Professor of Sustainability Science in the Division of Marine Science and Conservation

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.

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