Long-distance relationships and natural resource management

Three women standing in low-tide water working together to anchor a line of algae
Women working together to “plant” a line of algae during the low tide. Photo by Kris Smith

Much of the Tanzanian coast is divided into Beach Management Units (BMUs) — a system of participatory governance in which a local committee manages the landing site, or other sites important to fisheries access, and enforces government and locally designed rules for fisheries management. BMUs are nested in CFMAs, Collaborative Fisheries Management Areas designed to coordinate multiple BMUs accessing the same reefs and fisheries. Many people have relationships — family, friends and work partners — between villages within the same CFMA. Can these connections motivate people to support the BMU and follow its rules? Because these relationships are an important source of support, people have a vested interest in people living in other villages, and as a result, may be more attentive to how their actions affect their shared fisheries. In a project funded by the National Science Foundation, and in collaboration with Mwambao Coastal Community Network, we are investigating how long-distance relationships impact participation in the management of shared open-access fisheries in 28 villages on the coast of the Western Indian Ocean.

Relevant publications

Pisor, A.C., Borgerhoff Mulder, M., & Smith, K. M. The impacts of long-distance relationships on natural resource management.