Evolving adaptive governance: challenging assumptions through an examination of fisheries law in Solomon Islands

Datta, Amber W., and Chaffin, Brian C. (2022) Evolving adaptive governance: challenging assumptions through an examination of fisheries law in Solomon Islands. Ecology and Society, 27 (2). 30.

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Unprecedented, rapid social-ecological change threatens marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities who depend on them. Governance scholars have identified adaptive governance principles that enable managers and decision makers to respond flexibly to such change. However, much of this work is the result of case studies undertaken in the Global North, primarily in democratic countries. Despite this research bias, governance actors (e.g., government officials, nongovernmental organization professionals) in countries with other types of governing systems are increasingly applying adaptive governance principles normatively to policy. This expansion in the implementation of adaptive governance requires that governance scholars account for substantial variation across legal systems and sociocultural norms around decision-making in different geographies. Governance scholars must closely examine areas where adaptive governance principles need to evolve to better suit a wide variety of governance contexts. Here, we conduct such an examination through an empirical case study of a fisheries law developed in a country in the Global South: the Solomon Islands Fisheries Management Act (2015). We analyze the content of the Act along with data from interviews with governance actors and fishing village residents. We show how the Act realizes several adaptive governance principles through novel provisions that formally incorporate local communities and their practices into national fisheries management. We then illustrate four challenges for implementation that require critical reflection on approaches to institutionalizing adaptive governance in diverse contexts. We illustrate how these challenges are rooted in three assumptions underlying adaptive governance theory. These assumptions relate to: (1) the role of the state, (2) the role of democratic ideals in enforcement, and (3) the role of Western science, compared to other epistemologies, in decision-making. We conclude with suggestions for evolving these assumptions to improve the institutionalization of adaptive governance in countries with a wide variety of legal systems and governing norms.

Item ID: 75650
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1708-3087
Keywords: adaptive governance, co-management, fisheries policy, Global South, inshore fisheries, Pacific Islands, social-ecological systems
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2022 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.
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2022 09:23
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 50%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300505 Fisheries management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180502 Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems @ 50%
10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1003 Fisheries - wild caught > 100305 Wild caught fin fish (excl. tuna) @ 50%
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