Why investment in social capital yet to bear achievement in coral reef management in local setting?
By: Budiati Prasetiamartati, Akhmad Fauzi, Rokhmin Dahuri, Achmad Fahrudin, Hellmuth Lange
Social capital is trust, norms of reciprocity, and networks that facilitate the formation of collective action and institution. Social capital is proposed to support local-level development as well as natural resource management, including alleviating problems associated with common-pool resources. Following this concept, this study tries to seek whether investment in social capital, which include promotion on stakeholder conferences, the training of community leaders, and support for fishing organizations, can promote collective action and self-governance institution of resource use in coral reef ecosystem at local level. Coral reef ecosystem in South Sulawesi has been pressured by reef-related fishing activities, which include destructive practices of blast and poison fishing. The study is done in four selected small islands situated in Taka Bonerate Marine National Park and Spermonde Archipelago. These islands had been underwent a process of social capital investment. Findings suggest that local rules or institutions to govern coral reef management are not yet endured. This occurs because fishers are not able to overcome collective action dilemmas, including problems of credible commitment, of monitoring individual compliance, and of institution supply. It concludes that these problems can only be addressed when some important aspects of local self-governance are being met. Only then such investment in social capital can succeed.
Ocean and its entrenched resources such as fishery and coral reefs are categorized as commons. This resource shares two characteristics: (1) it is highly costly or impossible to exclude potential users from access to and appropriate the resource; and (2) the resource unit appropriation will subtract the resource stock available. Due to these characteristics, commons is confronted with problems of free-rider and of overuse. This situation is called “tragedy of the commons” by Hardin (1968), which occur when the resource is characterized by open access.
As a result, all efforts to organize collective action, whether by external rulers or fishers themselves, and wish to gain collective benefits, must address a common set of problems. These problems have to do with coping with free-riding, solving commitment problems, arranging for the supply of new institutions, and monitoring individual compliance with sets of rules (Ostrom 1990). Regardless of who governs a particular common-pool resource, it is essential to regulate at least two broad aspects: access to the resources and rules governing resource use (Ostrom 1990, Feeny et al 1990, Pomeroy and Berkes 1997, Dolšak and Ostrom 2003). Likewise, many empirical studies show that common-pool resources can be used and managed sustainably by the resource users themselves (Berkes 1985, Ostrom 1990).
Resource use depends on various groups of factors. An institutional analytical framework to analyze factors affecting resource use is proposed by Dolšak and Ostrom (2003:10). The use of coral reef resource is affected by formal and informal institutions governing its use. Formal institution includes government laws and rules, and their enforcement. Alternatively, informal institution is usually characterized by non-written rules or code of conducts accepted by a specific group of people. The establishment and endurance of an institution is affected by the characteristics of resource system and of resource users or fisher communities.
Moreover, trust, shared norms, and norms of reciprocity are important for the establishment of institutional arrangements. Shared norms can reduce the cost of monitoring and sanctioning (Ostrom 1990). Trust makes social life predictable, while it creates a sense of community, and it makes it easier for people to work together (Folke et al. 2005). These features are known as social capital that is important to lubricate or facilitate cooperation among individuals to develop and implement rules or institutions, and resolve collective action problems that are needed to manage natural resources in a sustainable way (Ostrom 1990, Agrawal 2001).
Investment in social capital has been promoted along with a growing urgency on collaborative management in coral reef management. Social capital is built by investing in social relationships, and the network that emerges can either focus on horizontal or vertical collaboration (Folke et al. 2005). Likewise, social capital investments might include expenditures on stakeholder conferences, the training of community leaders, and support for fishing organizations (Isham 2001).
Following this emerging perspective, social capital investment have been promoted in small islands in South Sulawesi, with objectives to improve the capacity of local fishers and community members on issues related with coral reefs conservation and environmentally-friendly fishing practices. This study investigates to what extent investment in social capital of fisher communities can alleviate problems associated with common-pool resources, with respect to coral reefs, and succeed in promoting durable institution to govern the resource.
This study uses an institutional approach. This approach assumes that individuals trying to solve problems as effectively as they can. Resource users, i.e. fishers, in many settings are strongly motivated to find better solutions to their problems if they can. Their economic livelihood depends on their creativity in solving individual and joint problems (Ostrom 1990).
It compares four selected case studies and assesses the institutions used in successful and unsuccessful cases, and tries to identify important factors that can impede or enhance the capabilities of fishers to use and govern coral reef ecosystem. “Successful” refers to outcome, namely the situation of resource use, which is influenced by the institutions governing resource use. This study defines outcome as the protection of community marine sanctuary and the number of blast and poison fishing.
Based on an initial field data collection in 2004, the study determined successful and unsuccessful cases of fisher communities that have experienced investment in social capital. Successful means that blast and poison fishing was limited. The boundary of study is island residents, so that the measurement of blast and poison fishing is those that are carried out by island residents. Notice that none or only limited fishers in Kapoposang that practice them, thus is regarded as “successful”. Nevertheless such practices flourish in Kapoposang marine area, but are carried out by outsiders.
Activities of social capital investment included convening community and fisher meetings, raising environmental awareness, training of fishers and local leaders, promoting credit union, introducing mariculture and other income generating activities, establishing marine sanctuary, initiating community monitoring. They activities are regarded as building social capital, because they were disseminating particular norms, as well as promoting relationships among fishers, and between fishers and other stakeholders. Regular engagements can build norms of reciprocity and trust.
The analysis uses empirical data, collected in 2004 and 2005, by way of field observation and semi-structured interviews to fishermen, local leaders, village chiefs, field facilitators of the external assistance, park rangers, related government officials in national, provincial and regency/ city level. A qualitative analysis is sought in answering the following questions: What rules or institution established by local fishers prior to the investment in social capital? To what extent the investment in social capital contributes to alleviating collective action problems in govern coral reef use? What is the limitation of assigning local rules in coral reef governance?
Results and Discussions
The following discussion covers the extent fishers are able to reduce collective action problems in reef fishery. Free-riding is a pervasive issue, consequently fishers who want to achieve sustainable use of this resource over the long run, where their livelihoods dependent upon, need to arrange an institution to govern its resource use.
Fishers’ Institutions in Managing Coral Reef Ecosystem
Informal fishing rules are endorsed in the community studied and exists without any support from external assistance. These rules are in place to overcome incompatible fishing gears used in specific fishing grounds (Schlager and Ostrom 1993, Ostrom et al 1994, Bavinck 2001). Blast and poison fishing, as well as purse seine (gae), trammel net (bagang rambo), bottom gill net (lanra), and bottom lampara (rere) are regarded as modern-type gears and incompatible with other more traditional gears, such as hand lining and nets. In addition, fishers devise rules on specific coastal area such as area adjacent to their resident island.
Each island has been experienced different process of social capital investment, which is somehow related with the status of the area. Rajuni Besar and Tarupa are situated in Taka Bonerate Atoll that was assigned as a national marine park since 1992. Similarly, Kapoposang was designated as a national tourism park since 1996. They are different from Barrang Caddi that is not assigned by any national institutional arrangements.
In these islands, the external assistance had facilitated stakeholder meetings, training of community leaders, and support for fishing organizations. The objective was to improve environmental awareness towards marine and coral reef ecosystem and to promote self-governance and local institution by community members. Local governance in coral reef management can be observed from some variables, namely the existence of local rules and sanctions towards conservation norms on coral reef ecosystem. Local rules had been established included managing marine sanctuary and prohibiting destructive resource use i.e. poison fishing, blast fishing, and coral taking.
However, compliance to follow rules was not fully achieved. In all islands, compliance to protect and manage community marine sanctuary is halted when the external assistance is no longer present. The same situation appeared on the compliance towards prohibition of blast and poison fishing, particularly in Rajuni Besar and Tarupa. During the period of external assistance, the destructive fishing practices in both islands were restricted. But, these practices are back to flourish when external assistance is stopped.
Problems in Managing Common-Pool Resource of Coral Reef Ecosystem
The above situation shows that the presence of external assistance is significant for fishers to conform conservation rules. It needs further explanation on why rules or institutions governing reef resource use are not persistently maintained by fishers. Ostrom (1990) that an institution to govern common-pool resource needs to be able to tackle a couple of issues: (1) overcome commitment problems among resource users, and (2) monitoring individual compliance with sets of rules established.
The problem of credible commitment
In all common-pool resource situations, including in inshore fishery where coral reef ecosystem situated, rules on resource use can only be maintained when resource users are confident that others follow the same rule. This is termed as the problem of credible commitment. Credible commitment is important to enforce rules and can be sustained when there are mutual trust and norms of reciprocity among fishers.
Norms of reciprocity and trust can be developed through long-term engagement, such as regular communication and regular gathering in a community setting (Coleman 1990, Putnam 1993, Ostrom 1990). Trust facilitates cooperation through norms of reciprocity. In a community setting, interactions are iterative and the capacity for reciprocity and threats can often produce conditions necessary for cooperation (Longo 1999, Runge 1992). This can result in the establishment of institutions or rules.
Nevertheless, local rules on marine sanctuary and prohibition of destructive fishing that have been promoted by local fishers are no longer in effect when the external assistance is left. One reason is because credible commitment among fishers is not established. These rules were established by resident fishers, who interact with other fishers who do not conform the same rules or norms. Thus, norms of reciprocity are hard to achieve. It may not be achieved among resident fishers themselves, where one part of fishers residing in the same island is practicing destructive fishing, while the other parts are not. Moreover, it is hardly achieved when resident fishers receiving external assistance interact regularly with other fishers who did not receive external assistance.
Credible commitment and norms of reciprocity can be delivered when there is a boundary of resource, thus resource can only be appropriated by defined members applying and convicting to the same rules. This is the first and foremost principle proposed by Ostrom (1990) to govern long-enduring common-pool resources. Additionally, credible commitment is endured when monitoring is carried out.
The problem of monitoring individual compliance
Monitoring is required in order to achieve credible commitment. Only when fishers are monitored by other fishers, they oblige to conform to the agreed local rules, and then opt not to conduct any breach of rules. However, monitoring activities and actions prohibiting infringements depend on the assessment of cost and benefits perceived by the monitors, who are fishers themselves.
1. Benefit of monitoring
Benefits of protected coral reefs are difficult to be restricted, because resource boundaries are indistinct and any fishers can generally enter the resource. Thus, when coral reef ecosystem is in good condition, because some people are monitoring against any destructive activities, then this benefit can also be seized by other fishers. In short, monitoring activities mean supplying a public good, thus everybody prefers to become free rider, expecting that others will contribute to its supply, while (s)he reap the benefits.
In addition, perception towards resources is important. There exists uncertainty regarding resource stock and the way resources are used. Benefits of monitoring and prohibiting destructive fishing practices are unknowledgeable by most fishers, who assert that resource stocks is not affected by blast or poison fishing. The same occurs in managing community sanctuary. The improvement of coral reef ecosystem due to the protection of marine sanctuary is not easily tangible and only occurs after a long time (Fox et al. 2003a and 2003b). It entails biological aspects in which local people have limited knowledge, and the support from the external assistance for these communities to distinguish the biological benefits is minimal.
2. Cost of monitoring
Monitoring entails costs – such as time and resources – which only bear to fishers or community members who monitor. Likewise, it may include social cost, such as rejection or even violent tension from the blast or poison fishers. This tension might be developed into discredit or threats against those who forbid the practice. Consequently, many fishers prefer not to prohibit rather than worsening social cohesion. Briefly, the cost to monitor is higher when norms of reciprocity and sanctions are not well established, as happens in these studied islands.
Sanction is required for rules compliance. This means that the monitors need to devote time and resources, in order to follow a kind of sanctioning process. Because a formal sanctioning process must be followed, then they must report to officers – namely police, park rangers, or field officers (babinsa or binmas) – and may later become a witness. This entails another cost for the monitors.
The process of formal law enforcement against lawbreaker is cumbersome, complex, and rarely reliable, because of some constraints, namely: (1) difficulty to obtain complete evidence in order to verdict offender; (2) rent-seeking behavior of officers, who receive bribes from offenders by disregarding enforcement rules. Moreover, informal sanctions were rarely imposed. It had been performed in Kapoposang, Rajuni Besar and Tarupa, by way of making declaration or confiscation of fishing boat; but in Rajuni Besar and Tarupa it was only carried out during the period of external assistance.
Due to the fact that only formal sanction can be performed, fishers only avoid practicing destructive fishing when formal monitoring presents and disregard monitoring of other fishers. Thus, destructive fishing is still largely regarded as a breach of formal law, but not of informal or social rules. However, exception appears in some fishing grounds where fisher rules are in place such as only to fish by hand lining.
Local institution: why it does not last longer?
Above analysis clarifies on how credible commitment and monitoring individual compliance to follow informal or social rules are yet to achieve in these communities. Informal rules on conservation were in place only when the external assistance was present. This issue relates to the problem of institution supply in the community level. A rigorous institution might be endured for a long time to address problems arise in a community. But stable institutions governing coral reef use are not established in these islands. The establishment of informal rule or institution is promoted by outside actors, and not sustained for a long term. It can be clarified by the fact that factors significant in establishing institution to govern a common-pool resource, are not provided, as explained below.
1. Discount rate: perception on future resource stock
It is important to notice how fishers perceive future resource stock, i.e. coral reefs and fish stock. Resource users tend to take benefits from resources at present time, and care less for the future. It is because “[i]ndividuals attribute less value to benefits that they expect to receive in the distant future, and more value to those expected in the immediate future” (Ostrom 1990:34). It means that fishers discount future benefits. When users perceive low discount rate, they will likely to manage resource for long-term benefit. Conversely, when it is high, users have normally less consideration on future benefit. The level of discount rate of resource users depend on the resource characteristics utilized or accessed by fishers.
In the fisher communities studied, fishing grounds are indefinite and vast, due to open access nature of the resource, except on locations where fishing rights prevail. Mobile fishers can go to different fishing grounds where the old ones are no longer rewarding. It means the discount rate is high. In addition, resource abundance is significant in affecting resource user’s perception and decision. When resource stock is abundant and mostly readily available, then the discount rate is generally high.
A different situation is shown in Kapoposang. It is located in a marine tourism park, where resource is wealthy and abundant; but resident fishers are considering low discount rate to its surrounding marine area. It is because of the characteristics of resource users of this island, who are traditional and use hand line or nets for fishing. They usually fish adjacent to the island thus are keen to protect it against outsiders, especially blast and poison fishing.
2. Interests among community-level decision makers
Interests among decision makers to devise rules or institutions in the community level are important to the establishment of a rule, especially on prohibiting destructive fishing. Their interests can be assessed through types of fishing gears utilized. Fishers in Kapoposang are generally traditional and using hand line or nets for fishing. Thus, they have similar interest to sustain a rule to prohibiting destructive fishing.
Conversely, one part of fishers in Barrang Caddi and Tarupa use blast or poison fishing, while another part does not. Fishing activities are supported by patrons who provide physical and financial capital. These patrons are mostly leaders in the community and affect a decision-making process. Therefore, an establishment of institution of prohibiting blast and poison fishing in these islands faces immense constraint. On the other hand, the number of fishers using blast or poison fishing in Rajuni Besar is minimal. Thus, conservation rules were quite strongly maintained during the period of external assistance.
3. Leadership within resource users
This point is related with the second point above. Participants with substantial leadership are important to promote institution for long-endure self-governance of common-pool resources (Ostrom 1990). Leadership in Rajuni Besar and Kapoposang has been involved and strongly supported conservation efforts. Likewise, fishing patrons also influence the resource use. There are no patrons in Kapoposang who promote blast or poison fishing. Local leaders in Tarupa and Barrang Caddi support conservation norm and prohibit blast and poison fishers; but there also reside fishing patrons who are financing such practice. These dissimilar interests have been constraining the establishment of sustained informal institution. This constraint is intricate to lift, even by external assistance.
This paper focuses on the institutional analysis of local rules addressing coral reef management. The evolution of institution for collective action in the community level has not yet endured. The intervention by external assistance by investing in social capital can induce the establishment of local institution, but this institution is not lasted after such intervention left the community. It is largely because collective action dilemmas are not yet resolved, due to the fact that delineation of resources is indefinite. Fishers are difficult to build norms of reciprocity and trust, therefore reluctant to build cooperation and maintain rules. The effectiveness of monitoring fisher’s compliance towards local rules partly depends on credible sanctioning, which is not effective, while it still largely depends on complicated formal enforcement. Finally, social capital investment in coral reef governance is important to induce norms of reciprocity, trust, and thus the establishment of institution. Nevertheless, its contribution is limited if collective action dilemma confronted by any common-pool resources is not resolved.
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