Governance and Governability: The Small-Scale Purse Seine Fishery in Pulau Rote, Eastern Indonesia
Rote is Indonesia's southern-most island with a population of approximately 128,000 people. Largely unregulated small-scale fisheries are integral to local livelihood strategies. Local catches are highly diverse, which reflects regional biodiversity and mixed fishing strategies. Rote's four mile coastal marine zone open to local small-scale fisheries is porous, resulting in competition against fishers from outside the district. Beyond these four miles local fishers compete against large-scale fishing operations for declining resources. To maintain fisheries sustainability and improve fishing-dependant livelihoods, improved governance is needed. Aligning with the interactive governance framework, this chapter examines a small-scale purse seine fishery operating around Rote waters, looking in particular at the implications of governance change through a coherent, carefully prioritized, reform scheme of investment and management. We argue that the major challenges to effective governance frameworks for small-scale fisheries in Rote include: (i) poor information flow that impedes new discourses on the comparative advantages of alternative arrangements leaving governing bodies consistently confronted by wicked problems; (ii) local attitudes towards compliance with fisheries laws and a limited capacity for enforcement; and (iii) a hierarchical governance system characterized by insecure tenure and competing governance priorities. We also present and argue for some likely pathways to improved governance.