Compliance, corruption and co-management: how corruption fuels illegalities and undermines the legitimacy of fisheries co-management

Fiona Nunan, Dražen Cepić, Ernest Yongo, Mwanahamis Saleh, Bwambale Mbilingi, Konstantine Odongkara, Paul Onyango, Elizabeth Mlahagwa, Monica Owili

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Links between corruption and illegal practices within fisheries are recognised in existing literature but little reference has been made to how these interconnected practices affect the performance and legitimacy of fisheries co-management. Research in the three countries bordering Lake Victoria, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, demonstrated that corruption is systemic and that members of all stakeholder groups – fishers, fisheries officers, police and the judiciary - are implicated. It was confirmed that corruption is strongly linked to illegalities and that corruption in this context should be viewed as a collection action problem, with fishers reluctant to invest in legal gears and methods when they perceive illegalities and corruption to be prevalent. It was also found that corrupt practices linked to illegalities discourages local level fisheries management structures – the Beach Management Units – from enforcing regulations and contributes to a lack of trust between fishers and government. Linked corruption and illegal fisheries practices were therefore found to be undermining the performance and legitimacy of co-management. The article concludes that whilst co-management offers opportunities for collusive corruption through collaborative arrangements, any management system will be susceptible to the harmful effects of corruption where it is systemic and is not formally recognised or appropriately addressed. Greater official recognition of the links between corruption and illegalities, and a range of appropriate actions taken to this collective action problem, is essential if co-management is to have a chance of success.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of the Commons
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • corruption
  • compliance
  • fisheries co-management
  • fisheries illegalities
  • legitimacy
  • Lake Victoria


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