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Examining Enabling Conditions for Community-Based Fisheries Comanagement: Comparing Efforts in Hawai‘i and American Samoa

Arielle S. Levine, San Diego State University
Laurie S. Richmond, Humboldt State University


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Much attention in global fisheries management has been directed toward increasing the involvement of local communities in managing marine resources. Although community-based fisheries comanagement has the potential to address resource conservation and societal needs, the success of these programs is by no means guaranteed, and many comanagement regimes have struggled. Although promising in theory, comanagement programs meet a variety of political, social, economic, ecological, and logistical challenges upon implementation. We have provided an analysis of two community-based fisheries comanagement initiatives: Hawai‘i’s Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA) legislation and American Samoa’s Community-Based Fisheries Management Program (CFMP). Although Hawai‘i’s initiative has struggled with only two CBSFAs designated, neither of which has an approved management plan, American Samoa’s program has successfully established a functioning network of 12 villages. We have explored the factors contributing to the divergent outcomes of these initiatives, including cultural and ethnic diversity, the intactness of traditional tenure systems and community organizing structures, local leadership, and government support. Differences in program design, including processes for program implementation and community involvement, supportive government institutions, adequate enforcement, and adaptive capacity, have also played important roles in the implementation of comanagement regimes on the two island groups. The different outcomes manifested in these case studies provide insight regarding the conditions necessary to enable successful community-based comanagement, particularly within U.S.-affiliated jurisdictions.

Key words

American Samoa; community-based management; fisheries comanagement; Hawai‘i; marine resource management; traditional conservation methods

Copyright © 2014 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