Environmental Management

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 204-216

First online:

Finding Space for Participation: Fisherfolk Mobility and Co-Management of Lake Victoria Fisheries

  • Fiona NunanAffiliated withInternational Development Department, University of Birmingham Email author 
  • , Joseph LuombaAffiliated withTanzania Fisheries Research Institute
  • , Caroline LwenyaAffiliated withKenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
  • , Ernest YongoAffiliated withKenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
  • , Konstantine OdongkaraAffiliated withNational Fisheries Resources Research Institute
  • , Baker NtambiAffiliated withNational Fisheries Resources Research Institute

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The literature on fisheries co-management is almost silent on the issue of the movement of fisherfolk within fisheries, although such movement must have implications for the effectiveness of co-management. The introduction of co-management often involves the formation of new structures that should enable the participation of key stakeholder groups in decision-making and management, but such participation is challenging for migrating fishers. The article reports on a study on Lake Victoria, East Africa, which investigated the extent of movement around the lake and the implications of movement for how fishers participate and are represented in co-management, and the implications of the extent and nature of movement for co-management structures and processes. The analysis draws on the concept of space from the literature on participation in development and on a framework of representation in fisheries co-management in addressing these questions. The created space is on an ‘invited’ rather than open basis, reflecting the top-down nature of implementation and the desire to secure participation of different occupational groups, as well as women in a male-dominated sector. The more powerful boat owners dominate positions of power within the co-management system, particularly as the levels of co-management, from sub-district to national, are traversed. The limited power and resources of boat crew are exacerbated by the degree and nature of movement around the lake, making effective participation in co-management decision-making a challenge.


Fisheries co-management Representative governance Fisherfolk migration Lake Victoria Participation