| Co-Operatives In Natural Resources Management Workshop report 10 |
There were two case-studies on inland fisheries presented at the Workshop. The study by Moorti and Chauhan (1992) reports the results of a study of 12 reservoir fisheries co-operatives in Himachal Pradesh. It was a successful attempt at co-operative management of a CPR. The success is attributed mainly to the following three factors: a) adequate infra-structural facilities; b) an efficient regulatory mechanism; and c) an efficient marketing mechanism. As the problem of judicious or controlled exploitation of a CPR is encountered most frequently in collective management, the evidence from the present study is of great relevance. The main elements of the mechanism devised consisted of:
a) refusal to issue licenses over and above the saturation point even if the applicants are registered members of the society;
b) a set of rules for protection and regulation of fisheries stipulating the fish size, mesh size, prohibition of wanton and wasteful methods of killing fish; and
c) a complete ban on fishing during the rainy season (16 June to 15 August) so that breeding and spawning can take place unhampered.
A close linkage and collaboration between the State Fisheries Department and the co-operatives was another important feature of the management system. This again is an issue worth probing further in the context of the widespread alienation and mistrust that more commonly characterise the relationship between the state machinery and the co-operatives. Another issue that begs adequate explanation is marketing of fish through contractors as a result of which the producers (fishermen) received only 52-57 per cent of the price paid by the consumer. What prevents the co-operatives from doing away with the middlemen remains a puzzle.
Singh and Dhar Choudhary (1992) presented a case-study of a sewage-fed fishery co-operative in West Bengal. The co-operative was unique in a number of ways: consistently efficient performance for over 65 years; very strict membership procedure; members being employees of the fisheries co-operative; and use of urban sewage as fish feed. The urban sewage is utilised not only in an economically profitable, but also environmentally sound manner - an issue of special relevance in the age of alarming rate of urban pollution. The co-operative had been functioning very successfully since its inception, be it in terms of the range of services rendered, benefits accrued to the members or creative and efficient management. The various factors responsible for this remarkable degree of efficiency include: long tradition, strict membership rules, membership handed down from one generation to the next, and a unique collaboration between co-operative personnel and government personnel in the day to day management of the co-operative. It is necessary to explore further the relative importance of the various factors, as replicability depends to a large extent on isolating the more crucial from the less crucial factors.
Though the Society has been running very efficiently (in terms of sound finances, able management etc.), to what extent it can be called a genuine co-operative society is a moot point. Given the fact that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is appointed by the government, what is the level of member control in the society? If there is a conflict between the Board of Directors and the CEO, what is the conflict resolution mechanism? Finally, marketing of fish in this otherwise well-managed society is done through middlemen. This results is diversion of some part of the revenue to the middlemen. What are the compulsions behind accepting this practice?