A geography of rights: Accessing places, and securing rights and claims

Author(s): E.R. Guieb

Take home messages for marine resource manager

  • Social factors such as ownership may create unequal access to fishing. 
  • Social and ecological use of areas can influence MPA placement. 
  • Villagers feel they have the right to ecological knowledge, and the right to participate in MPA rule  making. 
  • Managers should be aware of ownership structures and the rights to which villagers feel entitled,  so as to understand villager participation in MPA management. 

1. Background to study  
Access to marine resources must be understood through the social and ecological constraints. These  constraints may create unequal access to fishing.  Understanding these constraints is essential to  understanding people’s participation in MPAs. 

2. Methods
 - Ethnography - Unstructured interviews - Workshops - Focus groups

3. Principal results  
Human use of marine resources is an interaction between social and ecological variables.  For  example, Batasan villagers use the ‘front’ of the island for social gatherings, while the ‘back’ is used  primarily as fishing grounds. Ownership of and exclusion from access to marine resources is a  complex and shifting process. The naming of places and the use of semi (permanent fishing structures  such as fish corrals, can imply ownership, and create unequal access to marine resources.  Villagers  feel they have a right to 1) fish, 2) ecological knowledge, and 3) participate in MPA decision making.  

4. Why the results are important to MPA managers
The social use of space can play a large role in what area is chosen for an MPA. For example Batasan placed their MPA in what was perceived as the ‘front’ on the island because the high use of the area  would provide monitoring needed for its protection. Understanding of property rights is essential to  understanding different priorities and community involvement in conservation.  Villagers insistence  on rights to ecological knowledge and MPA decision making mean that community feedback by MPA  managers and community participation in MPA decision making is extremely important. 

Eulalio R. Guieb (2008) A geography of rights: Accessing places, and securing rights and claims. In: Community,  marine rights, and sea tenure: A political ecology of marine conservation in two Bohol villages in central  Philippines. PhD Thesis.  McGill University, Montreal.