Institutional Analysis of Community Based Marine Resource Management Institutions in the Pacific Islands Region

The goal of this project is to systematically assess and evaluate two community-based management institutions within the Pacific Islands Region, using a common framework for institutional analysis. Given that one emphasis of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council's adoption of an ecosystem-based approach to management is facilitating community-based management, it is critical to assess existing community-based institutions. This will be useful not only to the participants in those institutions, but to other communities and policy makers--in the Pacific and elsewhere—who may be establishing similar programs. The following provides an update on the current status of different components of this research project to date.

The first case study is an evaluation of the Community-Based Fisheries Management Program (CFMP) in American Samoa. As described in the fishing community profile of American Samoa, the CFMP was created in 2000 with technical assistance from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The program, based on the Fisheries Extension Programme established in neighboring Samoa in 1995, was designed to assist villages in managing and conserving their inshore fishery resources through voluntary co-management with the government. The CFMP's goal was to improve inshore fishery resources and enhance stewardship of marine resources by the village community. Although the fishing community profile described the relatively new program, it did not attempt to evaluate its direction and effectiveness using any formal framework.

Former PIFSC Social Research Project Manager Arielle Levine compiled a complete list of CFMP participating villages and the status of their participation in the program. She conducted in-person interviews with American Samoa-based key informants regarding the CFMP, including Fatima Sauafea-Leau (program initiator), Selaina Vaitautolu (current program leader), CFMP program staff, and others. Levine reviewed the draft framework for successful community-based management institutions with each of the key informants to determine how the CFMP program aligned (or did not align) with these common elements. She also reviewed other elements that might account for the success of, or challenges to, the CFMP program in American Samoa. A draft of the results of the CFMP case study was sent to key informants for verification.

Former PIFSC Social Research Project Manager Laurie Richmond has developed the second case study, which is focusing on Hawaiʻi legislation allowing designation of community-based subsistence fishing areas (CBSFAs) where native Hawaiian communities can develop fishery management plans rooted in traditional practices. The legislation was passed with "the purpose of reaffirming and protecting fishing practices customarily and traditionally exercised for purposes of native Hawaiian subsistence, culture, and religion". In the 15 years since the legislation was passed, however, only two communities have been designated. At least 16 others have initiated establishment of CBFSAs, but they have been unsuccessful for a variety of largely-undocumented reasons. Clearly, this legislation is not achieving its potential for preserving Hawaiʻi's fishing heritage. The institutional analysis assesses the CBFSA legislation to develop an understanding of its challenges and potential. Richmond conducted in-person or phone interviews with key informants in Hawaiʻi, leaders and residents in communities that have been designated and those that have not. These one-on-one unstructured interviews are also a source of valuable information themselves about Hawaiʻi's fishing heritage and culture.

These two cases are discussed in context of the framework for successful community-based management institutions with conclusions related to the Pacific Islands Region. The results of this research are published as a PIFSC Technical Memorandum.

Richmond L, Levine A
2012. Institutional analysis of community-based marine resource management initiatives in Hawaiʻi and American Samoa. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-PIFSC-35, 45 p + Appendices.