The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 7, Number 1, 2008

ISSN 1602-2297

Assessing Assessing the Governability of Capture Fisheries in the Bay of Bengal – A Conceptual Enquiry

Maarten Bavinck, Director (Corresponding author)
Department of Human Geography, Planning, and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands,

Venkatesh Salagrama, Director
Integrated Coastal Management (ICM), Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India,

Abstract: This paper contributes to the theory of interactive governance, which is one branch in the scientific discipline of governance studies, by exploring the application of the governability concept to the capture fisheries of the Bay of Bengal. It focuses on two aspects of governability: the definition of system boundaries, and the application of governability criteria. The focus with regard to the latter is on ‘representation’. Two possible definitions of a system-to-be-governed are explored: an ecological definition on the basis of Large Marine Ecosystems (LME), and a social definition based on the jurisdiction of non-governmental fisher councils. The conclusion is that the boundaries of governance systems for natural resource management are arbitrary, and various delineations have competing strengths and weaknesses. Although interactive governance theory provides useful insights for understanding the issues at hand, the operationalization of its conceptualization of governability is, however, hampered by ambiguity in the definition of criteria. Analysis suggests that ‘representation’ as an indicator of governability is most usefully interpreted as ‘level of attunement’ rather than simply as the mirroring of characteristics of the system-to-be-governed in the governing system.

Key words: governability, Bay of Bengal, capture fisheries, LME, institutional arrangements

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