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close this bookParticipatory Methods in Community-based Coastal Resource Management - Volume 1 - Introductory Papers (IIRR, 1998)
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View the documentFunding partners
View the documentCollaborating organizations
View the documentMembers of the management team and steering committee
View the documentAcknowledgement
close this folderIntroduction
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View the documentThe first booklet
View the documentThe second booklet
View the documentThe third booklet
View the documentA distillation of practical field experiences
close this folderHow this sourcebook was produced
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View the documentWorkshop objectives
View the documentWorkshop process
close this folderCoastal communities living with complexity and crisis in search for control
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCoastal communities
View the documentComplexity
View the documentCrisis
View the documentWho owns this sea?
View the documentCoastal resource management
View the documentCommunity-based coastal resource management
close this folderCommunity-based coastal resource management
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPrinciples of CBCRM
View the documentComponents of CBCRM
View the documentThe CBCRM cycle
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close this folderCommunity organizing and development process
View the documentDefinition
View the documentPurpose
View the documentThe community organizer
View the documentTime frame
View the documentCommonly-used approach
close this folderParticipation and participatory methods
View the documentWhat is participation?
View the documentWhy participation?
View the documentDegrees of participation
View the documentObstacles to participation
View the documentParticipatory methods and other research methods
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close this folderGeneral guidelines for using participatory tools
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View the documentGuidelines for facilitating groups
View the documentWhile working with a community...
View the documentGlossary
View the documentWorkshop participants
View the documentWorkshop staff

Who owns this sea?

There is a tremendous diversity of systems throughout the world determining who "owns" or has "rights to" coastal resources. However, the harvest of fish stocks is often subject to a competitive scramble in an open access system. There are few or no tenurial systems recognized by central governments outside of the national policies. Informal rules for use of the resources are sometimes difficult to determine.

Case study: Mangrove degradation

Mangrove forests have sustained some communities for generations but with increases in population, the threats have mounted. The uses of mangroves by local communities are often so dispersed as to be considered unimportant in the national economy. Much of the "value" of mangroves is in non- market goods and services such as erosion control, nursery for species harvested elsewhere, providing nutrients, subsistence use of wood and food species, etc. Nevertheless, the major pressure on the mangroves has been a result of demands from distant "markets" or users. The open access of most mangrove forests make them easy targets for removal of wood for charcoal production. The demands of urban populations create attractive markets which are difficult for local people to resist in the face of no restrictions on mangrove use. Extensive areas have been turned over to national or international companies to raise shrimp for export markets. This free-for-all system results from the "nationalization" of resources by colonial and subsequently central governments. Local control of mangrove management has been lost but is essential for sustainability.


The uncertainty of rights of access or tenure of coastal resources has often left the poor fishing communities with little choice except to take what they can, when they can. Without assurance that young fish left to grow will return benefits to the one who practices conservation, there is no incentive. However, it has been demonstrated that when people have incentives and reasons to expect that investments in conservation will bring future benefits, they do protect the environment.

Although the coastal zone is currently seen as being seriously impacted and fishing is often considered an occupation of last resort, the potential productivity may be recaptured and provide support for well-being of local people. This productive area can continue to support many communities but control and management are essential.