Marine Tenure and Coastal Resource Management

Marine tenure involves establishing a set of rights and responsibilities in the coastal and marine environment as to who is allowed to use which resources, in what way, for how long, and under what conditions, as well as who is entitled to transfer rights (if any) to others and how. The allocation and strength of these resource rights and governance rules and the extent of devolution to local stakeholders have a major influence on the economic and ecological viability of these resources. Through its commitment to addressing extreme poverty, USAID’s Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) program is focused on integrating a deeper understanding of the important role marine resource tenure plays in achieving multiple development objectives, particularly as it relates to small-scale fisheries and mangrove management.

Marine Tenure and Small-Scale Fisheries

Small-scale fishers play a significant role in the global fisheries sector. They represent about 90 percent of the world’s nearly 51 million capture fishers, of whom about half are women. Small-scale fishers produce half of all global fish catch and supply two-thirds of the fish consumed by people. With secure rights over a given fishery, fishing ground, or territory, small-scale fishers and coastal communities have a strong interest in organizing and acting collectively to manage their resources sustainably, resulting in multiple development benefits.

Since 2014, USAID has carried out research on land and marine tenure to support programs on fisheries and coastal management. This has resulted in a sourcebook—an in-depth compendium of knowledge on marine tenure in small-scale fisheries—as well as a primer, which provides guidance for USAID staff and partners on the integration of responsible governance of marine tenure into marine and coastal programming. Both outputs have been field tested through partnerships with three USAID missions in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines to enhance their relevance in the field.

USAID resources include:

Marine Tenure and Coastal Mangroves

Global attention on mangroves has been elevated considerably in recent years. Although there have been many small and large initiatives at the national and local levels to rehabilitate and restore mangrove areas, particularly after the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, these have largely revolved around developing a strong knowledge base about the biophysical dimensions of mangrove planting and protection to achieve better success rates. The central issue of how governance and tenure arrangements provide the enabling framework for achieving an integrated approach to mangrove management has largely been left on the margins. Given that mangrove forests play a critical role in multiple ways within coastal landscapes, support for effective governance institutions that establish clear tenure rights to access, use, and manage mangroves can ensure that institutions of mangrove management meet a wide range of goals.

USAID’s work through the TGCC program has provided a global assessment and country case studies on the legal, policy, and institutional frameworks that relate to the governance and tenure dimensions of mangrove forests, as well as launched an intervention in Vietnam on marine spatial planning and mangrove co-management to support their recent Coastal Forest Decree.

USAID resources include:

Photo Credit: Stephen Brooks / USAID

Issue Documentation