|Workshop on Integrated Reef Resources Management in the Maldives - Bay of Bengal Programme (1997)|
The aim of this paper is to present an overview of current issues for environmental management in the Maldives. In the past, the lifestyles of Maldivians were very simple and had almost negligible impact on the environment. However, recent socio-economic developments and growing population have led to marked deterioration in the environment. With a very fragile and delicate ecosystem, vulnerable to the threat of global warming and sea level rise, the need for environmental management and planning is clearly demonstrated.
In this paper particular attention is paid to the environment problems to which the government has given priority action. Issues considered include beach erosion, coral mining, population issues, freshwater resources, waste disposal and sewage disposal.
The present environmental management structure in the country is also considered in the paper. The institutions, legislation and agendas developed for environmental management are presented along with the environmental impact assessment procedure for new development projects. As the Maldives is actively involved in bringing environmental issues to the forefront of the global political agenda, the role played by Maldives in the international arena is also briefly stated.
1. PRINCIPAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
For any fishery, four actual or potential foci of problems that require management exist:
· The flow of the resource (its continued, regular availability);
· Stock externalities (the economic, and therefore social, impacts of harvesting interactions among users or user groups);
· Technological externalities (the mutual incompatibility of various harvesting technologies); and
· Allocation problems (competition for access to a resource[s] distributed unevenly in space and time).
The way in which these problems are addressed in coastal fisheries demonstrates convincingly the special characteristics of traditional, community based common property coastal resource management systems.
The crucial difference is that whereas the conventional management approach focuses on fish stocks and stock externalities and assumes an open access resource regime, traditional community-based common property systems of marine resources management focus and base management on the three interrelated factors of stock externalities, gear externalities and allocation problems, and base implementation on geographical areas, with defined boundaries, to which access is controlled (Ruddle 1995). Conventional fisheries management has focused on modelling the biological and physical flow of fish resources onto and through fishing grounds, and in implementation on attempting to manage the resultant stock externalities. In other words, it focuses on trying to manage what is unknown (and perhaps inherently unknowable) and thus unmanageable (Ruddle 1995).
Traditional management systems,, in contrast, make no such attempt. Rather, they are focused on resolving gear externalities and allocation problems, are implemented based on defined geographical areas and controlled access, are self-monitored by the local fishers based on local knowledge systems, and are enforced by local moral and political authority. In other words such systems focus in an integrated manner on human ecological problems which are inherently manageable. This implicitly accounts for the complex multi-species and multi-gear nature of the resource, thereby avoiding inherently unresolvable issues (Ruddle 1995).
Both the problems of gear externalities and assignment are overcome in traditional community-based management systems at the first level by:
· control of a fishing area, as a strictly bounded common property, and
· establishing exact social boundaries, by rights, to define who has access rights to that area.
At the second level boundaries are set by of rules of operational behaviour that then specify assignments of time and place within that space and group having access.
The first level is sustained by rights of exclusion, or limited access, that maintain the private area of a community of local fishers against outsiders. The second level, intragroup operational rules, is sustained by local authority that has the power to invoke sanctions on offenders. In a great many systems sustainable harvesting practices are enforced, thereby leading to resource conservation (Ruddle 1995).
2. UNDERLYING CHARACTERISTICS OF LOCAL KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS
The sets of rules that comprise a fisheries management system derive directly from local knowledge and concepts of the biological and physical environment and resources on which the fishery is based. Thus local knowledge is fundamental to the continuity of sound community-based management practices and to the design of new systems of sustainable resource management (Ruddle 1994a).
Local knowledge systems are empirically-based and practically-oriented. Some are complex and highly organized. Important commonalities characterize corpuses of local knowledge of coastal-marine environments and resources in many widely separated parts of the world. The principal ones are that they are (Ruddle 1994a; 1994b):
· based on longterm, empirical, local observation, that they are adapted specifically to local conditions, embrace local variation, and are often extremely detailed;
· practical and behaviour-oriented, focusing on important resource types and species;
· structured, which makes them somewhat compatible with Western biological and ecological concepts through a clear awareness of ecological links and notions of resource conservation; and
· often dynamic systems capable of incorporating an awareness of ecological perturbations or other changes, and of merging this awareness with a local core of knowledge.
Local knowledge may be gendered, because men and women usually have distinct economic, resource bases and social constraints, types of local knowledge vary between them. There are at least main four types of gender differences in local knowledge systems (Norem et al. 1989):
· different knowledge about similar things,
· knowledge of different things,
· different ways of organizing knowledge, and
· different ways of preserving and transmitting knowledge.
Some local knowledge of environments and natural resources is exclusive to females, and some bodies of local knowledge may have complementary male and female components. Both must be understood to comprehend particular aspects of resource production and environmental management. For example, knowledge of aggregations for a number of fish species includes that on spawning behaviour, especially that important for capture. Among the Marovoans of the Solomon Islands, for example, women have an extensive knowledge of the lunar and seasonal rhythms in the occurrence of eggs and milt in many species, as they usually gut the fish brought home by men. They thus assist in decision-making regarding the use of particular fishing locations. An intricate knowledge of seasonal variations in the occurrence of crustaceans and molluscs is also possessed mainly by women, the usual collectors of these resources. The timing and locations of aggregations of land crabs, mangrove crabs, mobile molluscs, as well as factors such as red tide that influence the edibility of molluscs, are intimately known to them. Similar knowledge, though limited to fewer species, is possessed mostly by those men who dive for commercial shells such as trochus, pearlshell, greensnail and the tabu shell, and for beche-de-mer (Johannes and Hviding 1987).
On the other hand, other bodies of specialized knowledge are possessed only by one gender (or age set). This pertains to the cultural roles of one gender, and often may not be available to the other. Further, in some societies specific bodies of knowledge are held only by particular office holders. This occurs, for example, among fisheries magicians, such individuals also often being religious leaders.
3. DESIGN PRINCIPLES OF MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
In many parts of the Asia-Pacific Region coastal fisheries are or were managed traditionally by community-based systems of property rights and associated regimes of rights and rules that closely reflect social organization arid local power structure. Since property is a social relationship that defines its holders security of claim to a resource or to the services or benefits it provides, such systems reflect a correlation among property, property rights, and social organization (Ruddle 1988).
In these traditional community-based common property systems of marine resource management an individuals sea rights depend on his or her social status within a corporate community, which ranges from villages through clans, sub-clans, and lineages, to the family. Resource territories and user groups are defined. Resource use is governed by rules and controlled by traditional authorities who mete out sanctions and punishments for infringement of regulations. Conservation for sustainable resource use is a widespread objective of these systems (Ruddle 1988; 1994a).
In traditional community-based marine resource management systems resource control and management is usually vested in traditional authority, the nature of which varies according to social organization. Four principal types can be recognized: traditional secular leaders, traditional religious leaders, specialists, and rights-owners. These categories frequently overlap, and responsibility is divided and shared. These are:
· Secular Leaders: In many societies a group of traditional leaders or an organization, usually some kind of village council, manages marine resources by regulating the use of community sea space and protecting resources against overexploitation. However, in many Pacific Islands, in particular, land and sea is disposed of by a chief, who exercises his authority on behalf of the entire community;
· Religious Leaders: The role of religious leaders in traditional resource management is widespread in the Asia-Pacific Region. These can be both traditional religious leaders, as in Indonesia and in parts of the Pacific Basin, or members of a formally organized church, as in Sri Lanka;
· Specialists: Commonly, marine resources are managed by fisheries specialists, who function under some form of higher authority, Such master fishermen are particularly common in Pacific Island societies; and
· Rights-Holders: Rights-holders themselves commonly have management authority over marine resources. Frequently, this level of authority is vested in the senior person of a lineage, family, or other small social group.
Under traditional community-based systems marine resource exploitation is governed by use rights to a property. A property right is a claim, consciously protected by customary law and practice, to a resource and/or the service or benefits that derive from it. Such a grant of authority defines the uses legitimately viewed as exclusive, as well as the penalties for violating those rights. The characteristics of property rights may vary situationally. Common characteristics are exclusivity, the right to determine who can use a fishing ground, transferability, the right to sell, lease, or bequeath the rights, and enforcement, the right to apprehend and penalize violators of the rights. The rights of enforcement, and in particular that to exclude the free-riding outsider, is a key characteristic, for without it all other rights are diminished either actually or potentially (Ruddle 1994c).
Almost universal throughout the Asia-Pacific Region is the principle that members of fishing communities have primary resource rights by virtue of their status as members of a social group. Such rights to exploit fisheries are subject to various degrees of exclusiveness, which depends on community social organization and local culture. Most commonly, traditional fisheries rights apply to areas, but superimposed on these may be claims held by individuals or groups to a particular species or to a specific fishing technology.
Traditional rights to marine resources may be primary or secondary, and may be further classified into rights of occupation and use. The relationships between the two main types, primary and secondary, is an important and complex characteristic of many traditional management systems, in which overlapping and detailed regulations on the use of technologies and particular species are widespread. Individual rights as sub-divisions nested within corporate marine holdings occur widely throughout the Asia-Pacific Region. Rights of transfer and loan and shared property rights also occur (Ruddle 1994c).
Most-commonly these are rights to which a group or an individual is entitled via inheritance (i.e., a birthright), by direct descendance from the core of a descent-based corporate group. Primary rights are generally comprehensive, since only they confer access to all resources within a defined territory. Inheritance, ancestral interests, social obligations and cooperative relationships within a social group provide continuity of ownership and rights.
Secondary rights are more limited than primary rights, often being restricted to specific fishing methods. They are acquired through affiliation with a corporate group, by marriage, traditional purchase, exchange, as a gift, or as reciprocity for services. Sometimes they may be inherited. Secondary rights are often given to residents of inland villages lacking direct access to the coast, particularly when such villages have historical and kinship ties with a coastal village.
Systems-with Nested Rights
In some societies rights to fisheries, which are usually to areas, are overlain by other rights, generally those to species and those to gear types. Most are quite simple, like those to locations with stone fish traps.
One complex and unusual case of such rights is that of Ponam Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, where the system of rights is composed of three main independent and overlapping elements: (1) ownership of reef and inshore marine waters; (2) ownership of species; and (3) ownership of fishing techniques (Carrier 1981; Carrier and Carrier 1989). There, owners of sea and reef areas do not have exclusive ownership of their tenured waters, owing to strict limits set by these countervailing, nested rights.
The Right of Transfer and Loan
Some traditional management systems permit the permanent, temporary or occasional transfer of rights to other social units. Often, temporary and occasional transfer requires users to compensate rights-owners in cash or, more commonly, in kind, usually with a portion of the catch. In other societies, however, individual fishermen are proscribed by either statutory or customary law from transferring their rights.
In some parts of the Asia-Pacific Region areal rights are shared between or among different corporate communities. Commonly shared rights have deep historical roots, and invariably sharing is done only for the most productive waters or where kinship ties are strong.
Rules give substance and structure to property rights by defining how a right is to be exercised, through specification of required, permitted and forbidden acts in exercising the authority provided by the right. Thus, whereas a right authorises a fisherman to work a specific fishing ground, his options in exercising it are governed by rules which may, for example, specify gear type used or seasonal restrictions, among other limitations. The more complete a set of rights, the less exposed are fishermen to the actions of others (Ruddle 1994c).
Basic rules define the geographical areas to which rights are applied, define those persons eligible to fish within a communitys sea space, and govern access of outsiders. Operational rules govern fishing behaviour, gear externalities, assignment issues, as well as specify unacceptable fishing behaviour, conservation practices, and distribution of the catch within the community.
(1) The Definition of Fishing Territories
In the Asia-Pacific Region, the sea territory of a social group is commonly, but not always, defined by proximity or adjacency to its settlements), and by lateral and seawards boundaries. As a general principle, the exclusive fishing territory of a community is in the adjacent marine waters, within the reef. But this varies considerably according to both local history and the more recent processes of national modernization in most places communities maintain exclusive rights to all known adjacent submerged reefs, which are named and owned exclusively by particular families, clans, municipalities, islands, groups of islands, or atolls, as the local social organization dictates. Seawards of the reefs the degree of exclusiveness of rights gradually declines.
(2) Eligibility Rules
In addition to holding rights, in many societies the persons who can actually engage in fishing are limited by community-based, national or cultural rules. Whereas in a great many societies in the Asia-Pacific Region membership of a corporate descent group, and thus inheritance, and/or residence are the only rules that must be satisfied in order to become a fisherman, in others further preconditions must be met. Such eligibility rules include caste membership, gender and skill level, among others.
(3) Inter-Community Access Rules
Access controls are applied to outsiders; people from other social groups. There is often boundary permeability between neighbouring groups, a consequence of long friendship, kinship or other close association. Boundaries are less permeable the more distant the outsider group is either socially or geographically. But increased commercial resource use often leads to strong access controls, even on close neighbours.
Throughout the Asia-Pacific Region, the rights of outsider fishermen are usually closely specified by rules defining access conditions. However, there is considerable variation in local details. Invariably, such rules require that prior permission be obtained before commencing fishing. Failure to do so is usually regarded as trespass, the penalties for which can be severe. Commonly, rules specify that some form of fee, compensation or royalty be paid once permission has been granted.
In some cases outsiders seeking fish for subsistence are allowed free access, whereas commercial fishermen might be granted access on payment of cash or kind, or prohibited entirely. Almost universally, commercialization and commoditization results in a demand for fees or prohibition, even when the target species has not traditionally been harvested by the host community. Species restrictions are sometimes placed on outsiders.
(4) Use Behaviour Rules
· Gear Rules: Gear rules are widespread in the Asia-Pacific Region. Gear perceived of as either deleterious to fish stocks or habitats is widely prohibited. Similarly, generally in the interests of equity, gear regarded as being too efficient or as exacerbating socio-economic cleavages within a community is often banned. Many gear rules are established to prevent gear externalities.
· Temporal Allocation Rules: In many places rules are enforced to promote both orderly and equitable fishing. Frequently, such rules limit the number of canoes in a line, and ensure that the position of canoes is changed in a specific order, so all fishermen can share equally in the best spots. Lottery systems for allocating space-time among fishing groups are widespread, especially in South Asia.
· Fishing Behaviour Rules. Almost universal are local rules aimed at promoting orderly fishing as well as protecting fish schools. Such rules are detailed and usually locally specific. Examples include the ban on individual fishing with flares, in favour of group efforts, acceptable levels of noise, and the way in which boats and gear must be handled so as not to disturb schooling fish.
· Species Rules: Rules are common regarding the harvest of certain species. Widespread, for example, is that turtles are reserved for higher ranking persons, such as chiefs in the Pacific Islands. Other rules forbid the harvesting of totemic and sacred species.
(5) Conservation Rules
The conservation intent within traditional community-based marine resource management systems is controversial (Ruddle 1994c). It is important, therefore, not to assume a priori that traditional management systems are intentionally conservationist. Rather, local rationale and possible conservational functions must be examined for in each case.
If community-based traditional marine resource management systems were originally designed as a conservation measure, admittedly an unprovable assumption in most places, they would have been the most widespread conservation measure employed throughout the Pacific Basin. Widespread in the Asia-Pacific Region is the use of closed seasons that follow local knowledge about the spawning periods of key fish species and prohibit their capture during such periods, together with other types of customary fishing regulations, often based on a non-ecological rationale such as religious taboos, that appear to have similar conservational implications (Johannes 1978).
Such practices are not static. And some of the new regulations that village communities devise to cope with changing technology and fishing practices are explicitly conservationist.
A wide range of conservation rules was traditionally employed by many communities in the Asia-Pacific Region, and especially in Oceania (Johannes 1978; 1981; 1982), to ensure sustained yields. Some were clearly designed to conserve stocks, whereas others also functioned coincidentally as conservation devices. Among these were the live storage or freeing of surplus fish caught during spawning migrations; the use of closed seasons (particularly during spawning); the placing of taboos on fishing areas; the reservation of particular areas for fishing during bad weather; size restrictions (although this was uncommon in Oceania); and, in recent times, gear restrictions (Johannes 1978).
(6) Distribution of Catch Rules
Rules defining access to harvested fish are widespread in the Asia-Pacific Region. These are an extremely important set of rules in many societies, since in terms of equity within a community access to fish once harvested can be as or more important than access to fishing grounds (Collier et al. 1979; Kendrick 1993). Such rules include those to provision the family and community, those required as subsequent and continual repayment for the acquisition of fishing rights, and those enmeshed in general community sharing and reciprocity and related norms concerning equity and fairness (Ruddle 1994a).
IV. Monitoring, account ability and enforcement
If rights are to be meaningful, provision must be made within the system for monitoring compliance with rules and imposing sanctions on violators. Under community-based marine resource management systems in the Asia-Pacific Region, monitoring and enforcement are generally undertaken within the local community; resource users policing themselves, and being observed by all others as they do so.
For a variety of reasons traditional authorities frequently imposed temporary or permanent bans, as well as spatial, temporal, gear, or species restrictions on the exploitation of marine resources. These commonly took the form of taboos.
Sanctions were widely invoked throughout the Asia-Pacific Region for the infringement of fisheries rights and the breaking or ignoring, of locally-formulated rules governing fishing and other marine resources uses. Four principal types of sanctions were widely invoked; social, economic, physical punishment, and supernatural.
· Social Sanctions: This category includes ridicule, shaming, ostracism, and banishment. Ridicule was widely used in Polynesian societies.
· Economic Sanctions: This category includes monetary and in-kind fines, destruction of gear and forced labour, among others.
· Physical Punishment: Physical punishment, including death, was a not uncommon penalty in the region, and especially throughout Oceania, for the violation of rules.
· Supernatural Sanctions: These are all-pervasive throughout the Region, and fear of them reinforces the other types of sanction.
4. DESIGN PRINCIPLES OF LOCAL KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS
The often fragmented and cursory data on subsistence-level societies throughout the world, obtained by researchers from a wide range of disciplines, yield remarkably consistent generalizations about certain structural and processual characteristics of local knowledge systems. These are (Ruddle and Chesterfield 1977; Ruddle 1993):
· There exist specific age divisions for task training in economic activities;
· Different tasks are taught by adults in a similar and systematic manner;
· Within a particular task complex (e.g., gill-netting) individual tasks are taught in a sequence ranging from simple to complex;
· Tasks are gender and age specific and are taught by members of the appropriate sex;
· Tasks are site specific and are taught in the types of locations where they are to be performed;
· Fixed periods are specifically set aside for teaching;
· Tasks are taught by particular kinsfolk, usually one of the learners parents; and
· A form of reward or punishment is associated with certain tasks or task complexes.
But there have been few comprehensive studies of local knowledge systems. One such system, on Guara Island, in the Orinoco Delta of Venezuela (Ruddle and Chesterfield 1977) is highly structured and systematic, with either individual or small group instruction. Emphasis is placed on learning by doing, through repeated practice over time rather than by simple observation and replication. Regardless of the complex of tasks to be taught, a teachers first step is to familiarize the learner verbally and visually with the physical elements of the appropriate location. The entire complex is demonstrated over a period of time; proceeding additively and sequentially from simple to complicated steps, the complex is divided into individual procedures that repeat those already mastered. Finally, an entire task complex is learned, with only occasional verbal correction needed. When competent, the learner is allowed to help the teacher, and to experiment and use his/her own initiative, and the teacher gradually eliminates the need to fill that role.
But not all systems are like that. A striking contrast is found on Pukapuka, one of the Cook Islands of Polynesia (Borofsky 1987). In Polynesia most local knowledge is transmitted informally, as on Rotuma (Howard 1973), for example. On Pukapuka, most knowledge transmission occurs in the context of an activity; in a situationally relevant purpose of performing daily tasks. This is similar to the situation on the Polynesian island of Tikopia (Firth 1936), as elsewhere in Polynesia (Ritchie and Ritchie 1979). Thus, for example, place names on a reef and the names and characteristics of reef fishes are gradually acquired as boys accompany their fathers on fishing trips.
On Pukapuka, verbal instruction is rare, and both children and adults learn by observation followed later by imitation, and like Tubuai, another Polynesian island (Levin 1978), where learning is based on close observation, formal instruction is minimal, and questioning, especially by children, discouraged, except where it pertains to concrete situations. Repetition of observation, listening and practice is the principal factor in the Pukapukan transmission of knowledge.
5. POLICY OPTIONS
Some traditional community-based resource management systems will have a future usefulness, both nationally and locally. Equally there will be valid grounds for either diluting, modifying or abolishing outright other systems. Deciding which course to follow will basically depend on national priorities and national fisheries management capacity.
There are three basic alternative policy approaches for community-based fisheries management that consider its relationship to the development of fisheries and other economic sectors:
· the case-by-case approach;
· dilution policies; and
· reinforcement policies.
The case-by-case option implies that no policy is established and legislated for, and that individual problems are resolved as they arise in terms of the relative costs and benefits to nation, region and local community. This approach has the advantage of political acceptability, since no fundamental changes are required. The disadvantages are that traditional rights-holders incur no obligations, such that development of other sectors will be difficult at best and impossible at worst. Further, because this process is ad hoc, no guidelines would emerge for the legal interpretation of traditional resource rights and their articulation with national development priorities. The case-by-case option is unsatisfactory in the longterm (Ruddle 1996).
A dilution policy requires legislation to strictly define the powers of traditional rights-holders, and to modify traditional management systems to enable the use of some traditional resource rights areas for other economic activities. Some systems would be abolished entirely. The advantages of a dilution policy are that it allows other economic sectors to develop rapidly, clarifies property rights and related issues, and defines the modem rights of traditional rights-holders. Its disadvantages are that it is often politically difficult and numerous implementation problems would arise. In many cases, the losses of rent, administrative costs and problems and possible social unrest would outweigh the economic and other benefits derived (Ruddle 1996).
The reinforcement option has the advantage that it also specifies the scope and power of traditional rights. That this approach would make conventional development difficult may often not be bad, although many would regard it as a disadvantage. But the reduction of the powers of central governments while placing responsibility on the rights-holders would likely be constructed as a disadvantage by vested interests. However, this could be overcome by reinforcing the scope of traditional systems within a concurrently legislated framework of co-management (Ruddle 1996).
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Cover photos courtesy: CHAS ANDERSON