Regulating access to fisheries making the law work: Decentralization & rights-based fisheries in the Philippines
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An examination is made of participatory coastal resources management approaches in the Philippines, providing a summary of lessons to be learnt from these experiences. The article is based on both a review of relevant literature and on personal knowledge from working with coastal communities in the Philippines. Particular reference is made to the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, which is often seen as a model upon which the legal framework for small-scale coastal fisheries management in other countries of the region could be shaped. The politicization of coastal fisheries management issues represents the biggest threat to the translation of the spirit of the Fisheries Code into sustainable fisheries management practices. However, it also offers coastal fisheries managers and coastal communities the opportunity to advance toward sustainable fisheries management systems at the local level. If they succeed in making coastal fisheries and resources management a priority political issue and can demonstrate to local legislators and decision makers the potential economic, social and therefore political benefits of specific coastal fisheries and resources management measures, the local political establishment is more likely to take the provisions of the Fisheries Code seriously and actually make this law work.