A case study of inland fisheries management in the Lucheringo-Rovuma- Messinge river systems, northern Niassa, Mozambique : from open access to common property?
Abacar, Antonio Jose Augusto.
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There is growing realisation world wide that the attainment of environmental sustainability is contingent upon reinstatement of community authority over management of natural resources. In acknowledgement of this imperative the government of Mozambique has formulated policies and enacted legislation to promote Community-Based Natural Resource Management. The research reported here considers the prospects for achieving CBNRM in a fishery located in a remote part of the country on the border between Mozambique and Tanzania. The central hypothesis addressed is that the fishery in historical terms was operated under a common property regime and that, under a number of forces , this has changed to an open access regime. The challenge facing government is to return the fishery to a common property regime. A conceptual framework which illustrates transformation of the fishery was developed. This was used to structure the research. Central question posed includes: what evidence is there that the fishery may have operated as common property system? what evidence is there that it now operates as an open access system? • what forces promoted such change, if indeed change has occurred? The findings are that the fishery has changed and now has the characteristics of the prospects for a return to CBNRM. Three issues are considered: who is the community? • what are the resources? and what are the management issues? It is concluded that definition of the 'community' is difficult because of historical precedents of access and use. The resource is shown to be complex including fish, water, land and plants; it also varies in tenure and space. Quite different rights of tenure issues accompany different resources. And management is complicated by international issues and apparent weaknesses in organisational structures, legislation and resources (human and financial). Evidence indicates that the people involved in the fishery are concerned about the state of the fishery and the lack of controls. They express a need for CBNRM. This study exposes the very complex nature of the fishery and suggests that failure to appreciate and understand this complexity encourages simplistic approaches to introduction of CBNRM. These are likely to fail. It is recommended that in light of the complexity elucidated by this research, the government should engage a strategic planning process with the intention of designing and implementing a process for introducing CBNRM which is constructed in the context of what is a very complex system.