Tradition has role in protecting fisheries

NEW YORK, Oct. 11 (UPI) --
Some fisheries in Indonesia benefit from a 400-year-old traditional system of management that is maintaining fish and coral reef health, conservationists say.

Coral reefs in Aceh are benefiting from the decidedly low-tech tradition known as "Panglima Laot," a system of customs and practices that focuses on social harmony and reducing conflict among communities over marine resources, the Wildlife Conservation Society reported Thursday.

Reefs benefiting from Panglima Laot contain as much as eight times more fish and hard-coral cover due to mutually agreed upon gear restrictions, especially prohibiting the use of nets, a release from the New York headquarters of the WCS release said.

Panglima Laot has principles associated with successful fisheries management institutions including clearly defined membership rights, rules that limit resource use, the right of resource users to make, enforce and change the rules, and graduated sanctions and mechanisms for conflict resolution, conservationists say.

"The guiding principle of Panglima Laot was successful in minimizing habitat degradation and maintaining fish biomass despite ongoing access to the fishery," Stuart Campbell, lead author of a WCS study, said. "Such mechanisms to reduce conflict are the key to success of marine resource management, particularly in settings which lack resources for enforcement."

Panglima Laot has been the key to reducing conflict among communities, providing sustainable access to marine resources, and limiting the destruction of marine habitats, the researchers said.


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