Participation by fishermen, the authorities and others concerned, plus an EMFF grant has made it possible to achieve successful co-management of an area off the coast of western Sweden.
In 2009, the Swedish authorities established a national marine park in Kosterhavets in western Sweden. This 390 square kilometre area is home to around 12,000 wildlife species, which warranted the creation of the area subject to special conservation measures to protect habitats and species in the area of Northern Bohuslän.
The snag was that this area also has a longstanding prawn fishery.
The move initially triggered a sharp conflict between conservation interests and local fishermen, concerned they would lose their way of life and source of income. It was at this point that all the interested parties – local authorities, conservationists and fishermen – realised they had to work together to find a viable solution.
The municipalities of Strömstad and Tanum, the University of Gothenburg specialising in marine research, the County Administrative Board who oversee the national park, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water management and the local fishermen came together to develop a sustainable co-management model for marine resources that would allow sustainable prawn fishing in the marine national park.
Supported by almost €70,000 in funding from the European Maritime Fisheries Fund and just over €30,000 from other sources, the co-management scheme has developed into an example of how co-operation between fishermen, authorities, local government and the research community can improve the local governance of a common marine resource.
The participants are organised in a co-management called Samförvaltning Norra Bohuslän, which involves the active participation of some ten fishermen and 15 officials from the local, regional and national authorities.
There are about 50 active fishermen in the region, who received training in the management of natural resources, increasing their knowledge of marine ecology and giving them a forum to discuss the challenges they face. A new version of sustainable fishing gear was developed.
Officials, regulators and researchers received training in fishing techniques and traditions, giving them a better understanding how local fisheries can exist without threatening the MPA’s marine environment. Most of the training was carried out in the field, including spending time at sea.
Monitoring has demonstrated that fisheries do not negatively affect the biological values in the national park, while fishermen were able to benefit economically.
This successful example of co-existence of potentially conflicting interest and jointly developing local regulations is seen as offering a model for the rest of the European Union and wider. It has been granted further EMFF funding to continue the development of the co-management model and increase its transferability to other areas facing the same challenges.