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Rivers as resources, rivers as borders: community and transboundary management of fisheries in the Upper Zambezi River floodplains

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This article examines the recent convergence of community-based and transboundary natural resource management in Africa. We suggest that both approaches have potential application to common-pool resources such as floodplain fisheries. However, a merging of transboundary and community-based management may reinforce oversimplifications about heterogeneity in resources, users, and institutions. A scalar mismatch between the ecosystem of concern in transboundary management and local resources of concern in community-based management, as well as different colonial and post-colonial histories contribute to this heterogeneity. We describe a fishery shared by Namibia and Zambia in terms of hybrid fisheries management. We examine settlement patterns, fishermen characteristics, sources of conflict, and perceptions regarding present and potential forms of fisheries management in the area. We also consider the implications that initiatives to manage resources on the local and ecosystem scale have for these fishing livelihoods. Our findings indicate that important social factors, such as the unequal distribution of population and fishing effort, as well as mixed opinions regarding present and future responsibility for fisheries management will complicate attempts to implement a hybrid community-transboundary management initiative.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University, 309 Gladfelter Hall, Philadelphia, PA, USA 19122-2585 ( ), Email: 2: Nicholas School of Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, 135 Duke Marine Lab Rd, Beaufort, NC, USA 28516 ( ), Email: 3: Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Private Bag 2116, Mariental, Namibia ( ), Email: 4: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Tungasletta 2, NO-7485 Trondheim, Norway ( ), Email: 5: Department of Fisheries, Sesheke, Zambia (deceased) 6: Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization, P.O. Box 1625, Jinja, Uganda ( ), Email:

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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