Institutional designs of customary fisheries management arrangements in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Mexico
There are considerable efforts by governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academia to integrate marine conservation initiatives and customary practices, such as taboos that limit resource use. However, these efforts are often pursued without a fundamental understanding of customary institutions. This paper examines the operational rules in use and the presence of institutional design principles in long-enduring and dynamic customary fisheries management institutions in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Mexico. Rather than a "blue print" for devising long-enduring institutions, this study relies on the design principles as a starting point to organize an inquiry into the institutional diversity found in customary governance regimes. Three important trends emerged from this comparative analysis: (1) despite it being notoriously difficult to define boundaries around marine resources, almost 3/4 of the cases in this study had clearly defined boundaries and membership; (2) all of the customary institutions were able to make and change rules, indicating a critical degree of flexibility and autonomy that may be necessary for adaptive management; (3) the customary institutions examined generally lacked key interactions with organizations operating at larger scales, suggesting that they may lack the institutional embeddedness required to confront some common pool resources (CPR) challenges from the broader socioeconomic, institutional and political settings in which they are embedded. Future research will be necessary to better understand how specific institutional designs are related to social and ecological outcomes in commons property institutions.
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