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Playing by whose rules? Community norms and fisheries rules in selected beaches within Lake Victoria (Kenya) co-management


  • C. A. Etiegni

    () (UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education
    State Department of Fisheries)

  • K. Irvine

    (UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education)

  • M. Kooy

    (UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education
    University of Amsterdam)


Co-management of natural resources has developed within the premise that sustainable management is more likely achieved through decentralized and participatory governance. For Lake Victoria (Kenya), the introduction of co-management through the establishment of beach management units (BMUs) coincided with apparent increases in unsustainable fishing practices associated with concurrent decline in fish stocks. In this article, we identify what institutions at the community level influence practices and how these shape the interpretation and application of formal rules laid down by fisheries policies. Primary data collected from four beaches on the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria document local fishing practices. We found fishing practices are often contrary to government regulations, despite the creation of BMUs that were established to implement government regulations. Instead, fishing practices regulated by the BMUs are highly influenced by kinship ties and corruption. This analysis uses the concept of institutional bricolage to discuss how norms and rules interact to affect resource management. The findings build on existing evidence which challenges the view that devolution of natural resource management to local institutions, even those that follow national guidelines for participatory management, provides for more sustainable fishing. We suggest the need for a perhaps radical rethink of the design of participatory fisheries within Lake Victoria if sustainable management goals are to be realized.

Suggested Citation

  • C. A. Etiegni & K. Irvine & M. Kooy, 2017. "Playing by whose rules? Community norms and fisheries rules in selected beaches within Lake Victoria (Kenya) co-management," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 1557-1575, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9799-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s10668-016-9799-2

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    Cited by:

    1. Chenyang Xu & Klaas van’t Veld, 2020. "Team Inspection in the Management of Common-Pool Resources When Corruption is Present," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 75(3), pages 553-584, March.


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