Administration and conflict management in Japanese coastal fisheries | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
December 1987
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Japanese coastal fishermen have legally-guaranteed equitable access to and “ownership” of the living aquatic resources of coastal waters, through an elaborate fisheries rights system. In Japan no conceptual distinction exists between land holdings and land tenure and sea holdings, or sea tenure, and fisheries enjoy a legal status equal to that of land ownership. Sea tenure in Japanese coastal fisheries is a complex subject that is little known in the West. It involves time-honoured customary procedures for management and conflict resolution which have been incorporated into modern legislation. The Introduction reviews selected aspects of the general behavioural context within which the administration of Japanese fisheries and the resolution of conflicts should be viewed. Since the degree of continuity with traditional management practises is an outstanding characteristic, Chapter 1 describes and provides examples of the historical antecedents of the present situation. Present day formal administration is described in Chapter 2. Systems of coastal sea tenure reflect an intimate interplay of formal government regulations and informal customary elements. The latter are commonly of greater day-to-day importance than the former. In Chapters 3 and 4 this is examined through the problems of conflict management and resolution, proceeding from the personal and small-scale level to the impersonal prefectural and national levels. In Japan the most frequent, effective and culturally legitimate methods employed to manage and resolve conflict are informal and personal. These are operationalized via small-group discussion, verbal communication and the use of gobetweens. Such mechanisms, which ensure that a conflict remains localized and centred directly on the contending parties, are employed not only to manage conflicts between fishermen but also in highly formal situations such as arise in the judicial process. Failure to adhere to such a process invariably means that conflict becomes entrenched and impossible to solve.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
Kenneth Ruddle Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Fishery and Aquaculture Economics and Policy Division
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