Nudging statutory law to make space for customary processes and community-based fisheries management in Solomon Islands
2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Like many Pacific countries, Solomon Islands has more than one legal system operating concurrently: customary law, statutory law and the common law of England. Governance also occurs at national, provincial and local scales. Local people managing coastal and marine resources under customary marine tenure (CMT) have increasing difficulties in enforcement as external threats exceed their scope of governance. Before 2015, CMT breaches were not a fisheries violation as recognised by the western legal system. Drawing on our involvement in developing a new Fisheries Management Bill in 2007-2015 and consultations within the Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, we examine how, and to what effect, the resultant Act-specifically Section 18 on Community Fisheries Management Plans (CFMPs)-has accommodated or shifted the relationship between customary governance systems and the state's contemporary fisheries legislation. We examine if, and how, employing Section 18 can contribute to regional and global fisheries governance policy implementation. The Fisheries Management Act 2015 recognises the rights of customary rights holders to institute CFMPs, provides a mechanism to codify and enforce access and use rights through CMT and empowers these efforts as a legitimate management tool under statutory law. We conclude that statutory law has been 'nudged' to make space for the dynamic process of customary law. We contend that use of Section 18 has the potential to elevate community voices in discussions of coastal and marine resource management at different scales, if practitioners do not lose sight of the intent behind the statute's development.