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Forces opposing sustainability transformations: institutionalization of ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management

Matt P Fortnam, Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter


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Moving toward new ways of governing ecosystems in varied contexts worldwide is likely to be a critical part of achieving the global Sustainable Development Goals, yet understanding of the tensions between forces driving and opposing such sustainability transformations is very limited. Here, I shed light on this critical research and policy domain by applying participatory actor and influence mapping (Net-Map) and innovation histories methods to understand the power relations and social processes involved in enabling and blocking the institutionalization of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) in the Philippines. Drawing upon a case study of an intermunicipal alliance in Lanuza Bay, the results highlight how challenges such as vested and divergent interests, corruption, weak coordination between levels of government, and the particular contingencies of place conspire to weaken and undermine initial EAFM successes. I conclude that agents of resistance, the role of power and agency, and socio-political realities need to be central to resilience conceptualizations of sustainability transformations.

Key words

institutionalization; power and politics; small-scale fisheries; transformations

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087