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From single use to multiple use: Co-operation and conflict in marine resource management in North West Connemara, Ireland

Research output: Working paper

  • N. Steins
Of particular importance for the study of resources that are held in common is the issue of cooperation or collective action. The extensive body of literature on this subject suggests a number of factors that encourage collective action. However, these factors are mainly related to 'internal' characteristics of the resource system and stem from empirical research on commons that are characterised by one, single extractive use. In multiple use scenarios, where activities by different user groups take place within the same resource system, the issue of co-operation becomes even more important, since each user group's action will have an impact on the resource use by other user groups, and on the management of the resource as a whole. The objective of this paper is to examine the factors that affect co-operation between user groups in a multiple use setting. The empirical basis for this paper is laid by two case studies of multiple use scenarios in North West Connemara, Ireland: Killary Harbour and Ballynakill Harbour. Both estuaries accommodate inshore fishermen, a salmon farm, shellfish producers, aquatourism enterprises and freshwater fisheries. Unlike many estuaries in the south and east of Ireland, the estuaries in North West Connemara are relatively unspoilt areas, where traditional users have only recently witnessed the arrival of new user groups. Incentives by the government to stimulate socio-economic development has resulted in favourable policies for new entrepreneurs. The promotion of the area for tourism and infrastructural improvements have made this part of Ireland more accessible to tourists. As a result, aquaculture and aquatourism enterprises are being set up all along the area's coast. The new status of many estuaries as multiple-use resources place new demands on resource management and the user groups. A comparison of the two case studies revealed the evolution of management strategies and inter-user relationships must be seen as an outcome of interactions between the internal and external characteristics or resource management in a dynamic environment. The paper identifies seven factors that affect co-operation between user groups in a multiple-use setting: (1) the relationship between the technology of the activity and the physical characteristics of the resource system; (2) the extent to which the user groups perceive each other's activities as a threat to their own specific use; (3) past experiences with other users; (4) the rate of participation in external policies affecting local resource use; (5) the extent to which producers have secured their position in the market; (6) the role of external agents involved in resource management; and (7) external factors. These factors will help researchers and practitioners to organise information about the networks that have been established between different user groups that use the same resource system for their individual activities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPortsmouth
PublisherUniversity of Portsmouth
Number of pages61
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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