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Coping with illegal fishing: An institutional account of success and failure in Namibia and South Africa

Journal article
Authors Martin Sjöstedt
Aksel Sundström
Published in Biological Conservation
Volume 189
Pages 78–85
ISSN 0006-3207
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 78–85
Language en
Keywords Illegal fishing; Institutional theory; Natural resource management; Marine systems; South Africa; Namibia
Subject categories Political Science


Although previously sharing many ecological and institutional conditions, the fisheries reform processes undertaken in South Africa and Namibia in the early 1990s have produced highly different institutional trajectories. In Namibia, the institutional arrangements governing fisheries management have turned Namibia into a regional success case with relatively low degrees of illegal fishing and poaching, but in South Africa, the institutional arrangements are generally considered to be weak and characterized by noncompliance – and poaching is widespread. The overall objective of this article is to provide an institutional perspective on how to understand the dynamics of these different trajectories. In particular, the article concludes that the notion of path dependence, historical legacies, and distributional struggles provide important insights to the observed developments.

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