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Early assessments of marine governance transformations: insights and recommendations for implementing new fisheries management regimes

Stefan Gelcich, Departamento de Ecología, Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Center for the Study of Multiple-Drivers on Marine Socio-Ecological Systems, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Francisca Reyes-Mendy, Instituto de Ciencia Política, Center for Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Monica A Rios, Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile


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Implementing a governance transformation entails the creation of a new institutional system when ecological, economic, or social structures make the existing system untenable. It involves building capacities, establishing viable formal and informal institutions, and triggering major societal changes. Early assessments (EAs) provide a mechanism to fine-tune and support institutional learning processes, which are needed to provide legitimacy and political acceptability of transformational change. We performed an EA of a governance transformation aimed at implementing ecosystem-based, multilevel participatory fisheries management in Chile. We performed individual interviews and workshops and synthesized existing reports to assess the main challenges of the institutionalization of the new policy. Results showed that successful implementation of the governance transformation would need to address key issues related to building trust and improving transparency, including clear protocols for cocreating knowledge and securing resources and capacities. The EA allowed us to define specific recommendations associated with legal reforms, issuing of new executive orders to clarify implementation, and improvement in operational standards by government agencies. EAs provide a fundamental tool that helps build legitimacy and sustainability of new governance systems. They bring a sense of reality, informed by social science, that allows us to understand progress in the implementation of governance transformations, by identifying rigidities that fail to accommodate emerging realities.

Key words

Chile; coproduction of knowledge; governance transformation; marine management; policy implementation; trust building

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087