Sustainable fishing and the conservation of maritime resources requires regulation, but also efficient coordination and governance of common resources (fisheries and fish stocks) by local fishing communities. Armed conflict can significantly affect such capacity for collective action, with important consequences for the conservation of maritime resources and the livelihoods of local fishing communities. Yet, these effects have rarely been documented and analysed. This project will investigate the ways in which armed conflict and the presence of armed actors affects the capacity of fishing communities to manage and govern fishing activities, how this affects the conservation of maritime resources, and how this in turn affects the livelihoods of fishing communities, existing structural inequalities and their resilience to poverty, as these communities are particularly vulnerable to changes in production and access to environmental resources and climatic change.
The project will focus on understanding the relationship between armed factions and fishing communities in the Southern shores of the island of Mindanao, the island of Basilan and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines. The region's armed conflict has induced a deep militarization of local economic, politics and societies but, to date, there is limited knowledge of how this has affected the fishing sector, the conservation of maritime resources, and how local fishing societies manage common fisheries, access sustainable livelihoods and build resilience to poverty. This project makes use of a multi-disciplinary, mixed methods approach to address this crucial gap in the literature. The juxtaposition of conflict and fisheries in the island of Mindanao is in addition a unique opportunity to understand the complex dynamics that emerges during conflict times and how governance structures of armed groups may cause lasting impacts on communities highly dependent on natural resources.
The project will target policy audiences at the international, national and local levels, by using the extensive research networks and links the PI, Co-PIs and local researchers to ensure a broader impact. Three key engagement and impact activities will take place during the project and have been budgeted for: (i) local conference hosted by Western Mindanao State University; (ii) national conference organized by the Asian Institute of Management in Manila; and (iii) one video conference of policy-makers in Colombia and the Philippines to facilitate South-South policy dialogue. The IDS and the University of Illinois will facilitate international engagement with institutions such as the World Bank, USAID, DFID, the United Nations and other relevant organisations working on the nexus between conflict and the environment.