The effect of leadership and other contextual conditions on the ecological and socio-economic success of small-scale fisheries in Southeast Asia

Abigail Mary Sutton, Murray Alan Rudd

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Small scale fisheries (SSF) and communities that rely on them are increasingly at risk from social and environmental pressures. Leadership is commonly thought to be a crucial contextual condition to help alleviate those pressures in a variety of SSFs globally. This paper aims to explore how SSF leadership and other important contextual conditions act, alone and in combination, to influence desired social and ecological outcomes in SSFs. Fifty case studies from Southeast Asia were analyzed using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). QCA encourages theory-informed analysis that accounts for contextuality and can identify necessary and sufficient conditions that lead to ‘successful’ SSF outcomes. Our results demonstrated that multiple configurations of causal conditions – pathways – led to success and failure among SSF management efforts documented in the Southeast Asian case studies. Local leadership was found to be an important determinant of ecological and social success for many case studies but the absence of a local leadership does not necessarily signal community-based fisheries management will fail. Strong local leadership could, in fact, play an important role in achieving negative outcomes in some circumstances. Effective local leadership can be supported via high level institutions and communities, through access to resources, and simply through community-oriented motivations or intentions among leaders. While the SSFs in this study were diverse and complex socio-ecological systems, regularities among potential determinants of SSF success could be identified, suggesting that key ecological and social conditions affecting both social and ecological outcomes may, in the future, be used to identify interventions to support SSF management. This study highlighted the importance of research that considers societal processes and their interactions with the environment, and of the importance of continued efforts to fully document SSF management innovations and institutions over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-115
Number of pages14
JournalOcean & coastal management
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015

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