Seth Macinko

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A thematic focus on special strategies for protecting special areas gives rise to several questions of a definitional nature. For example, what do we mean by “protecting”—protection from what and for what purpose (or even, a bit anthropocentrically, for whom)? Or, perhaps more importantly, what do we mean by special areas? It seems to be the norm these days in discussions of marine policy to use “special areas” as a sort of shorthand for (special) areas deserving protection through the application of a (special) tool known as MPAs—marine protected areas. But the whole thing is a bit circular—MPAs are a special strategy for protecting special areas, which are defined as areas protected by MPAs. I want to address a different kind of special area and a different kind of protection strategy. One meaning of special areas is special places. And the special places I wish to address are fishing communities. Fishing communities warrant at least some of our attention when thinking about place-based strategies for management. In this paper, I argue that management for fishing communities as special places has promise, but that place-based management is thwarted by the fusion of two contemporary streams of thought in fisheries management: conflation of interest groups and “communities,” and the emphasis on “rights-based” fishing. In Part II, I explore the concept of place—what I mean by place, the importance of place to people, the contrast between place-based management when the focus is on marine organisms as opposed to when it is on human communities, and the potential contribution of place-based strategies to fisheries management in the future. Despite the promise, place-based management faces substantial impediments and in Part III, I discuss how the coalescing interest in “property rights” and “community-based management”—in concert with a complementary legal ruling—impedes broader recognition of fishing communities as special places and experimentation with place-based management. In Part IV, I return to the idea that place-based management holds considerable promise for the benefit of fishing communities and the biological communities they exploit.



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