Who owns the shore? The case of Lake Victoria

22 November 2011 (Block 3: Social Justice and the Coast)

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About the lecture:
This lecture will highlight issues and factors related to how ownership (of fish resources) influences management and utilization of these resources. It will demonstrate how ownership relates to social justice. The point here is that ownership of fish resources may have a single definition, but in reality it involves differing meanings and implications for different people. Fishers who focus on their well-being and rights may view it as a route to providing secure livelihoods, greater control over their future, as well as environmental sustainability benefits. On the other hand, those who embrace market forces as a means to allocate fishing ownership rights may invoke the same environmental sustainability benefits while also seeing secure tenure as beneficial in maximizing economic efficiency in the fishery, regardless of its impacts on wellbeing, resilience or sustainability of communities. For this reason it is crucial to go beyond the idea of benefits associated with ownership to how it is implemented, and to ensure good governance arrangements for subsequent decision making.
The lecture will demonstrate how such an implementation among the Lake Victoria fishing communities, in Tanzania, requires upholding certain community values which are so important in guiding the relationship and utilization of the Lake’s resources between and among them. Rights and responsibilities on the fisheries resources are only meaningful in as far as they are undertaken to ensure that community values are not diluted. Possession of fish resources is of no consequence if one does not uphold the community values. Each community member therefore strives to show behavior that ensures maintenance of his/her social standing in the community. Fishing, hunting and agriculture were all penetrated and customized by social relations which dictates any outcomes from them. This is what constitutes in part a social justice among these communities.

Professor Dr. Paul Onyango
PAUL ONYANGO holds a doctorate degree from the University of Tromsø, Norway. He is a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He is involved in research which investigates the dilemmas authorities face in confronting poverty and managing small-scale fisheries. He has 15years research experience on Lake Victoria and in East Africa. His recent publications include: Reconfiguring poverty: the wickedness perspective (2010) in Journal of Tropical Hydrobiology and Fisheries; co-author in Freedom and poverty in the fishery commons (2010) in International journal of the Commons; and Assessing poverty in small-scale fisheries in Lake Victoria, Tanzania (2010) in Fish and Fisheries Journal; Climbing the Hill: Poverty Alleviation, Gender Relationships, and Women’s Social Entrepreneurship in Lake Victoria, Tanzania' (accepted paper in Maritime studies Journal)

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