Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

The Cost-Benefit Analysis of Fisheries Management Systems in Kenya: The Case of Lake Victoria

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

The Cost-Benefit Analysis of Fisheries Management Systems in Kenya: The Case of Lake Victoria

Article excerpt

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The need for fisheries management stems from the fact that fisheries resources are common property. It is known that such resources will be over-exploited and possibly irreversible unless subject to appropriate fisheries management (Amason et al. 2003). Fisheries management is characterized by multiple and conflicting objectives, multiple stakeholders with divergent interests and high levels of uncertainty in the resources being managed (Joachim et al. 2007). All these factors can lead to high levels of contention and poor results in the management process. Normally, management system evaluation which involves assessing consequences of a range of management options and analyzing the trade-offs in the performance across a range of management objectives can assist in the resolution of these issues (Joachim et al. 2007; Schnute, Maunder and Ianelli 2007).

For a long time, the objectives of fisheries management have been tailored on the scientific evidence to ensure long-term sustainability and promote optimum utilization of the fishery. According to Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), fisheries management is an integral process of gathering and analysing information, planning, consultation, decision making, allocation of resources and implementation to ensure the continued productivity of resources. It is now apparent that management cost has a major influence on the effectiveness and enforcement of the policy. Niels et al. (2011) identified management cost as part of the social cost of fishery and noted that efficient management system based on individual transferable quotas brings a positive economic rent.

Amason (1999) defines fisheries management cost as all expenditures on activities that are necessary to develop and operate the existing fisheries management regime. Governments spend a lot of money in the understanding that fisheries management can generate benefits for the fishing community, consumers and the society in general. This shows that there may be reasons to doubt that the government can be an efficient provider to fisheries management services; therefore, co-management and community management are like promising avenues to explore (Schrant, Amason and Hannesson 2003). The level of expenditure devoted to managing fisheries suggests that the resource and its users are important to governments and the expenditure on fisheries services is essential for ensuring the sustainable use of fish stock.

For a long time, the importance of evaluating the cost of fisheries management was not given much emphasis. Many studies on governance in Lake Victoria, Kenya have focused on co-management (Nunan 2010). However, it has now become apparent that fisheries management is not costless and that different management systems have different costs of management. Wallis and Flaaten (2003) explored how management costs are shared between management authorities and users of the fisheries. Abdullah, Kuperan and Pomeroy (1998) and Kuperan et al (2008) have assessed transaction costs in co-management. Ulmas (2003) evaluated the cost of fisheries management in Estonia. However, there has been no attempt to empirically verify the transaction costs and benefits of the four fisheries management systems collectively.

Imperial and Tracy (2005) note that most fisheries management programmes rely on either "leviathan" or centralized bureaucratic arrangement based on government regulation or market-based arrangements that allocate total allowable catch (TAC) using individual transferable quotas. Most of the fisheries are faced with failures or collapse and the underlying problem is usually based on an open-access fishery which has no barrier to entry and no restrictions on fishing effort. The nature of access to fisheries resources means that intervention is required to provide for optimal economic performance and environmental objectives. Management authorities therefore spend considerable funds to conduct research, make decisions and reinforce them (Wallis and Flaaten 2003). …

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