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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 60-71

Co-management in the Maine Lobster Industry: A Study in Factional Politics

Department of Anthropology and School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA

Correspondence Address:
James M Acheson
Department of Anthropology and School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.110936

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One of the most promising mechanisms to conserve fish stocks is co-management, a type of ICCA (Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Territories and Area), in which responsibilities are shared by resource users and the government. In Maine, the lobster co-management system, established in 1995, divides the coast into seven zones. It permits license holders in each zone to recommend rules on four issues to the commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources. This article describes the history of the Maine lobster co-management system, emphasising the role of factional politics in determining the development of policies and rules. In the Maine co-management system, political outcomes depend on the power of factions of fishermen and the coalitions of those factions with government units at higher scales. Cross-scale cooperation is necessary. In the cases where such a cross-scale coalition existed, rules were passed and policies went into effect. In those cases where no such coalition existed, gridlock reigned. If we wish to understand the production of rules for the lobster industry, we must focus not only on the actions of different industry factions, but also on the byzantine relationships between lower levels of management (i.e., the zone councils and the Lobster Advisory Council) and higher scale institutions (i.e., legislature, Maine Department of Marine Resources, etc.). In this paper, special attention is paid to the reasons that stricter trap limits have not been devised, despite the fact that such limits would solve a variety of serious problems.

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