Widespread alarm over the continuing decline of marine and freshwater fisheries has prompted research on the theory and practice of community-based management (CBM). Considering the suite of possible CBM benefits--including local involvement, compliance with regulations, reduced enforcement costs, and sustainable resource use--it is understandable that CBM projects are on the rise. However, there is insufficient examination of the challenges to CBM and the context-specific feasibility of grassroots stewardship. In response, we applied an assessment framework to a Venezuelan fishery to evaluate the feasibility of CBM and to identify barriers to its fruition. We used a variety of methods in concert (including observation, Rapid Rural Appraisal, a survey, and interviews) to assess the characteristics of the 1) resource, 2) user group, and 3) governing institutions. Our results show that resource and user group characteristics are CBM compatible. The negative influence of all institutional characteristics--particularly impediments to local participation and the prevalence of corruption--makes CBM unfeasible in the study site at this time. We discuss these barriers and their implications. The details of reforms necessary to facilitate CBM and prevent fish species loss are, however, beyond the scope of this study.

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