Collaborative Coastal Management in Brazil: Advancements, Challenges, and Opportunities

  • Cristiana Simão SeixasEmail author
  • Iain Davidson-Hunt
  • Daniela C. Kalikoski
  • Brian Davy
  • Fikret Berkes
  • Fabio de Castro
  • Rodrigo Pereira Medeiros
  • Carolina V. Minte-Vera
  • Luciana G. Araujo
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 19)


In Brazil, during the past 20 years, several dynamic collaborative coastal management (CCM) arrangements have emerged in response to a variety of changing social and ecological conditions. These arrangements have led to an equally large range of outcomes, such as the fishing agreements in the Amazon basin and marine extractive reserves in coastal areas. This chapter describes the evolution of these collaborative management arrangements in coastal Brazil. We begin by introducing the major policies related to environmental management in Brazil, focusing particularly on the evolution of fisheries management and protected areas management. We continue with an overview of (i) key events and issues that have shaped CCM in Brazil; (ii) the achievements for the advancement of CCM over the past years; and (iii) current challenges to the advancement of CCM. We conclude the chapter with our ideas and associated thinking about what lies ahead to promote CCM in Brazil.


Participatory management Co-management Fisheries Protected areas 

18.1 Introduction

Collaborative coastal management : what does it mean? A search in the Web of Science indicates that the term “collaborative coastal management” was initially used in the seminal article “Trends in development of coastal area management in tropical countries: from central to community orientation” by Christie and White (1997). Since then, the term has been used in some articles (e.g., Jorge 1997; Verheij et al. 2004; Lawless 2015) with little or no precise definition. Collaborative management, on the other hand, has been used many times in the scientific literature, often interchangeably with participatory management, joint management, co-management, or cooperative management (see Plummer and FitzGibbon (2004) for a review of this terminology).

In this chapter, we use the term collaborative coastal management (CCM) as an umbrella term to refer to processes encompassing a range of institutional arrangements (from highly formalized to informal) among different sets of stakeholders, including resource users, government agencies, government research institutes, universities, the private sector, and other civil society organizations (e.g., NGOs) . Government is often, but not necessarily, a key player in CCM processes. We understand that CCM may develop whenever two or more different groups of interests (stakeholders) work together to improve coastal management. Hence, the “bottom-up” or “top-down” terminology is not sufficient to describe CCM initiatives, as some may emerge as horizontal or cross-scale initiatives, often leading to partnerships. Issues of inclusion (participation), representation, power-sharing, and decision-making are central to collaborative management (Plummer and FitzGibbon 2004). The principles of transparency, accountability, democracy, and sustainability are also behind most of these collaborative management efforts (Jentoft 2003). CCM has also been an important arena for knowledge sharing, exchange, and building in Brazil. Bridging and embedding knowledge in CCM is influenced by sociopolitical aspects such as knowledge holders’ political positions, language and communication barriers, and the use of participatory approaches in facilitating CCM. As a political process, power relations play a key role in influencing how participation takes place and how new institutional architectures are shaped (Gasalla 2011; Castro 2012).

There are relatively few reviews of collaborative coastal management cases within a national context (e.g., Pomeroy and Carlos 1997) and none with a focus on Brazil. To explore how collaborative management in coastal Brazil has evolved over the years, we first present an overview of environmental management in Brazil, focusing particularly on the evolution of fisheries management and protected areas management. We then present how we have assessed CCM in Brazil and the lessons we have learned about it.

18.1.1 Environmental Management of the Coastal Zone in Brazil

In the 1980s, Brazilian society started to experience a transition toward democracy that was consolidated in the last decade of the twentieth century. The emergence of new social identities and organizations, and of participatory and public decision-making arenas, resulted from this new political context. Enhanced engagement of civil society in decision-making seemed to reflect the increased participation of more left-leaning parties in government at all levels (including the presidency since 2003) as well as external influences from a globalized world (Avritzer 2007; Borba and Sell 2007; Hochstetler and Keck 2007). Such influences over the last 30 years resulted in an increase in the number of organizations of civil society, which have often operated in social movements at multiple scales, as well as in forums at local, regional, national, and international levels related to human rights , environmental protection, and civil rights (Scherer-Warren and Luchmann 2004).

This new democratic setting has favored the participation of civil society organizations in environmental management. Moreover, a diverse set of environmental policies and management tools in Brazil have allowed for societal influence and regulatory measures at national, state, and municipal levels. These include (i) environmental impact assessment, environmental licensing, and establishment of compensation measures for large-impact projects (potentially hazardous activities are increasingly monitored and evaluated according to criteria regulated by government/s); (ii) protected areas (management councils require the participation of civil society representatives, in some cases including resource users); (iii) environmental councils (at municipal, state, or regional levels; councils have different and evolving degrees of intervention on environmental management and socioeconomic development); (iv) watershed management committees (civil society, government, and technicians increasingly work together to solve conflicts over water use and to approve and monitor watershed management plans); and (v) Local Agenda 21 (motivated in particular by the global movement developed from the World Summit Rio conference in 1992; numerous Agenda 21 processes have been now initiated throughout Brazil).

Environmental management of the coastal zone, particularly through collaborative management models, has been mainly shaped by four interconnected sectors, namely, fisheries, protected areas, coastal management, and watershed management. These sectors are typically administered under different policies, institutional arrangements , and leading organizations (Table 18.1), with a variety of consequences that we summarize below. The Brazilian coastal management program (GERCO) started in 1988; nevertheless, due to several reasons, its collaborative initiatives have had limited success. In fact, only a few states have completed their ecological-economic zoning plan, required under the National Coastal Management Plan process (Scherer et al. 2009). Watershed management, on the other hand , is well advanced in Brazil, but mainly takes place outside of the coastal zone and is poorly connected to coastal management. Despite the importance of watershed management, our discussion regarding collaborative coastal management is rooted mainly in cases related to fisheries and protected areas management in Brazil.
Table 18.1

Leading organizations of sectors shaping coastal zone management in early 2015


Leading organizations

Collaborative management


Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA)

Co-management of fisheries resources a; Fisheries agreements a

Ministry of Environment (MMA)

Protected areas

Ministry of Environment

Through advisory and deliberative councils b,c

Coastal management

Ministry of Environment

Through national-, state-, or local-level coastal management committees d,e

Watershed management

Ministry of Environment

Through watershed management committees f

National Agency of Waters (ANA)

aFederal Decree 6.981/2009 (MPA/MMA)

bAccording to the National System of Nature Conservation Units (SNUC) (Law N. 9985/2000), all protected areas shall have a council encompassing representatives of government at all levels (municipal, state, and federal) and representatives of civil society. Consultative Councils have limited decision-making power: management plans are elaborated after the Consultative Council input is heard, but all rules and management structures have to be approved by the government. Deliberative Councils, on the other hand, are allowed to design and approve management plans

cIBAMA IN 29/2002, Federal Law 9.985/2000 and Federal Decree 4340/2002

dFederal Law 7.661/1988 and Federal Decree 5.300/2004

eFederal Law 6.938/1981

fFederal Law 9.433/1997

18.1.2 Fisheries

Over the years, fisheries management in Brazil has been conducted by different agencies of the federal government that can be divided into three stages of development. The first stage ended in 1962 and is characterized by the absence of a dedicated federal agency for the fisheries sector. Rather, the Brazilian Navy was in charge of fisheries from the late nineteenth century to the mid-1930s, at which point fisheries management was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture. The first national-level legislation regarding fisheries – the Fisheries and Hunting Code – was issued in 1934. From the 1930s to the early 1960s, fisheries were under the Ministry of Agriculture (Dias-Neto 2003). The creation of an agency dedicated to the development of the fisheries sector (SUDEPE) in 1962 under the Ministry of Agriculture marked the second stage of fisheries management in Brazil. This stage can be further subdivided into four periods on the basis of the institutions and agencies in charge (Table 18.2).
Table 18.2

History of fisheries management in Brazil and evidence of collaborative management



Key agencies at federal level


Evidence of collaborative managementa


Before 1962

Navy Ministry of Agriculture

Formally centralized; no impact on the ground

Little or no community-based fisheries management evident



SUDEPE (Superintendence for the Development of Fisheries) – Ministry of Agriculture

SUDEPE is designated as the lead organization

Command and control is the dominating ideology


IBAMA (Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) – Ministry of Environment (MMA)

IBAMA regional offices play special roles in fisheries regulations for regional fisheries

Command and control persists but guided by scientific advisory committees



Fishing resources are classified into the overexploited category (regulated by IBAMA) and underexploited and highly migratory fishes (regulated by DPA)

Research organizations (universities and fisheries institutes) play a role based on formal partnerships

DPA (Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture) – Ministry of Agriculture

Collaborative management emerges (i) as fishing agreements are legitimatized by the government, (ii) in some protected areas prior to 2000, and (iii) through a formal policy (SNUCb) after 2000, which required advisory and deliberative councils for each protected area


SEAP (Special Secretary of Aquaculture and Fisheries) – Presidency of the Republic

SEAP has status of a ministry, replacing the roles of DPA

Emerging institutional arrangements, although not formally defined as fisheries policy strategies


Division of competences between IBAMA and SEAP remained

Rising number and consolidation of sustainable use protected areas (e.g., extractive reserves) as a functional institutional arrangement for collaborative fisheries management

ICMBIO (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) – Ministry of Environment (MMA)

Part of IBAMA is transformed into the ICMBio in charge of protected areas


2009– early 2015

MPA (Ministry of Fisheries)

MPA is the lead in decision-making, regarding all fishing resources, although still shared with IBAMA

Participation and fisher’s ecological knowledge are considered basic inputs to the new fisheries policy


Creation of national system for shared management of fisheries resources between MPA and MMA

Source: Modified from Silva et al. (2013)

aBased only on legislation and policies

bSNUC (National System of Nature Conservation Units)

The first period (1962–1989) involved the creation of the Superintendence for the Development of Fisheries (SUDEPE) in 1962 and the Fisheries Code (Federal Decree 221/1967) issued in 1967. This period was also distinguished by an abrupt change in organizational responsibilities and unbalanced levels of support between artisanal and industrial fisheries. For instance, government incentives mainly sought to develop a more industrialized fleet by seeking to transform artisanal fisheries (Diegues 1983; Dias-Neto 2003; Abdallah and Sumaila 2007). As a result, over the last 50 years, the proportion of artisanal fish landings dropped from more than 80% of total catch, to less than 20% along the southern coast of Brazil (Vasconcellos et al. 2007, 2011). This significantly influenced collaborative management initiatives, specifically creating a pattern of asymmetrical participation in management arenas between industrial and artisanal fishers that persists to this day. SUDEPE was closed in 1989 and, over the next 20 years, a sequence of federal agencies in charge of fisheries management in Brazil were created, closed, and branched out in a variety of ways until the creation of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture in 2009 (Table 18.2).

The third stage of development encompasses the period from 2009 to 2015, during which a Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA) was institutionalized in Brazil. In addition to the passing of the National Policy for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Federal Law 11.959/2009) (hereafter fishery policy) in 2009, a Technical Commission on Shared Fisheries Management was established, composed of representatives of the Ministry of Environment (MMA) and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA). MPA was dissolved in late 2015, when its authority was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA).

Until recently, preconditions for fisheries co-management (Pomeroy and Berkes 1997; Jentoft 2003) on the Brazilian coast were rare or absent at the national level. The few cases that were documented have emerged from the bottom up (Vasconcellos et al. 2007; Kalikoski et al. 2009; Seixas and Kalikoski 2009). Fisheries policies were conducted under the 1967 Fisheries Code until 2009, when the new fishery policy became the guiding legislation. The ideology of “command and control” (Holling and Meffe 1996) has been dominant since 1962, although local efforts did provide lessons for new approaches, as will become apparent in the following sections.

As of 2010, a number of more formally recognized fisheries management tools were developed that included a collaborative perspective. Examples include the fishing agreements (IBAMA IN 29/2002) and the Federal Decree (6981/2009), concerning shared responsibilities over fisheries management between the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA) and the Ministry of Environment (MMA).

Fishing agreements often emerged from the demands of riverine communities and civil society organizations , for instance, in the Amazon Basin, who sought recognition via local institutions particularly since the 1970s (Castro 2000, 2002; Aquino et al. 2007; McGrath et al. 2007; Viana et al. 2007). In practice, fishing agreements have mainly resulted in the formal legitimization of community-based fishing management by the national government. However, it is important to note that in only a few cases have these agreements become part of management procedures in coastal zones (Vasconcellos et al. 2007). Furthermore, fisheries agreements were not formally included as a standard institutional tool under the new fishery policy from 2009, in spite of being broadly used for inland fishery management in the Amazon basin.

Under the Technical Commission on Shared Fisheries Management (MMA/MPA), technical working groups and management committees were created, composed of representatives of government and civil society. These committees and working groups propose to the Technical Commission management plans for the sustainable use of the fisheries specific for a species (e.g., lobster, mullet, sardine), gear (gillnet) , stakeholder group (artisanal fishers) , and fish group (demersal) (Vieira et al. 2015).

Other arrangements that are not regulated or led by government have also promoted fisheries co-management in Brazil. These include multi-stakeholder bodies and knowledge exchange networks. Examples of the former include the fishing forums, which were created as a result of communities’ initiatives to organize themselves and discuss their problems and seek solutions in partnership with governmental and nongovernmental organizations . Some Agenda 21 Forums have also been initiated by communities. Examples of the latter include the contribution of the scientific community to policy and management decisions and actions and the exchange of knowledge among fishing communities and nongovernmental organizations from different regions of the country. In addition to the abovementioned formal instruments and informal arrangements, the institutionalization of protected areas plays an indirect role in the governance of small-scale fisheries.

18.1.3 Protected Areas

Protected areas (PA) management had a different development path in Brazil and, as such, has faced different experiences regarding collaborative management. The Brazilian Institute of Forest Development (IBDF) oversaw federal protected areas until 1989. Similar to SUDEPE, IBDF was closed, and its tasks were taken over by the Federal Environmental Agency (IBAMA). IBAMA held jurisdiction over all federal protected areas until 2007 when the Federal Protected Areas Agency (ICMBio) was created for this purpose. ICMBio holds exclusive jurisdiction to manage federal protected areas under the National System of Nature Conservation Units (SNUC) both in terms of overall direction and management tools (including management councils and management plans). Conversely, IBAMA is in charge of surveillance and enforcement. State and municipal governments, through specific agencies, manage protected areas under their jurisdiction.

Formal collaborative management of protected areas started with the implementation of the first extractive reserve in the Amazon in 1990 and in the coastal zone in 1992. Until 2000, when the National System of Nature Conservation Units (SNUC) was established under Law N. 9985/2000, collaborative management of protected areas was relatively rare. Protected areas (PAs) under the SNUC , for example, were classified into “no-take PAs” and “sustainable use PAs.”

No-take PAs do not allow a full collaborative management process as all management councils only hold a consultative status . Even though civil society organizations and resource users may be involved in planning, the government still retains final decision-making authority. Among the sustainable-use PAs, only the extractive reserves and sustainable development reserves hold deliberative management councils, which allow for full collaborative management processes. All other classes of PAs have consultative councils, on which resources users and civil society organizations can serve as members in order to express their points of view. Since ICMBio’s creation, management initiatives inside PAs have been guided by several internal resolutions that regulate how to establish and operate management councils and elaborate management plans in a collaborative and participatory fashion. In most cases, however, collaboration in PA management is at an early stage, and numerous challenges persist in terms of overcoming conflicts, particularly regarding resource use by traditional groups inside no-take protected areas (Diegues 2008; Gasalla 2011; Bockstael et al. 2016; Seixas et al. 2017). In this regard, a new instrument  – the “terms of agreement” – was issued by ICMBio in 2012 in order to search for temporary solutions to conflicts concerning resource use inside no-take PAs. The effectiveness of such instruments is still to be assessed.

18.2 Assessing Collaborative Coastal Management (CCM) in Brazil

In order to explore lessons learned and identify opportunities to advance CCM in Brazil, a workshop was held in 2010 in Paraty, on the Southeastern coast of Brazil, which was attended by 56 participants. These participants were divided into four working groups, each representing a mix of Brazilian and international researchers, Brazilian government officials, and community members. In each group, there was a bilingual facilitator, plus one Portuguese and one English notetaker, supplemented with people who were able to perform whispering translation. The workshop discussion was structured around a set of guiding questions to address the following topics: (1) key events and issues that have shaped CCM in Brazil and elsewhere; (2) progress for the advancement of CCM in recent years; (3) current challenges to the advancement of CCM; and (4) major knowledge gaps of CCM. The lively and sometimes heated discussion around these topics guided the development of a synthesis and series of recommendations on the future of CCM.

Figure 18.1 and Table 18.3 present the variety of CCM cases most cited during the workshop. It is important to mention though that there is a bias toward the southeastern and southern regions of the Brazil, because that is where most of the workshop participants work. Some CCM cases are related to the creation and/or implementation of protected areas and other management tools, such as coastal management plans and fisheries agreements . Others examined governance arrangements, for example, through multi-stakeholder bodies such as inter-municipal consortiums, national and state councils, and management committees. Other cases are mainly research-driven or focus more on networks and science-policy interfaces or research-action interfaces.
Fig. 18.1

Location of the most cited cases during the workshop . The legend for case numbers, including case names, type of arrangements, and specific municipality and state is found in Table 18.3

Table 18.3

Location by region, municipality, and state of the most cited cases where different types of management arrangements operate as cited by participants of the workshop



Management arrangement



Cassurubá MERc

Protected area

Alcobaça, Caravelas, and Nova Viçosa, BA


Corumbau MER

Protected area

Prado, BA


Canavieiras MER

Protected area

Canavieiras, BA


Arraial do Cabo MER

Protected area

Arraial do Cabo, RJ


Casimiro de Abreu MER project

Protected area

Casimiro de Abreu, RJ


Fisheries assessment at Ilha Grande Bay


Paraty, Angra dos Reis, RJ


Fisheries agreement proposal at Ilha Grande Bay

Fisheries agreement proposal

Paraty, Angra dos Reis, RJ


Paraty project (IDRC funded)


Paraty, RJ


Consultative Council of the Ilha Grande State Park

Protected area

Ilha Grande, RJ


Lago São João watershed committee – inter-municipal consortium

Multi-stakeholder body

Araruama, Saquarema, and Rivers São João and Una, RJ


Mandira MER – Cooperostra

Protected area

Cananéia, SP


Ecological economic zoning of northern São Paulo coast

Coastal management plan

Ubatuba, Ilhabela, Caraguatatuba, São Sebastião, SP


Northern coast marine environmental protected area (APA Litoral Norte)

Protected area

Ubatuba, Ilhabela, Caraguatatuba, São Sebastião, SP


Southern coast marine environmental protected area (APA Litoral Sul)

Protected area

Iguape, Cananéia, Ilha Comprida, SP


Territorial Development Council of Parana coast

Multi-stakeholder body

Coast of Paraná, PR


Ibiraquera MER project

Protected area

Imbituba, SC


Pirajubaé MER

Protected area

Florianópolis, SC


Littoral observatory

Science-policy network

Coast of Santa Catarina, SC


Ibiraquera Lagoon Forum

Multi-stakeholder body

Imbituba, SC


Consultative council of Baleia Franca environmental protected area

Protected area

Southern coast of Santa Catarina, SC


Fishing rules revision at Arvoredo marine biological reserve

Protected area

Ilha do Arvoredo, SC


Patos Lagoon Forum

Multi-stakeholder body

Patos Lagoon, RS


Brazil Meros Network

Research-action network

Some nodes: Caravelas (BA), Tamandaré (PE), Iguape (SP), São Francisco do Sul (SC)


Fisheries solidarity network

Research-action network

Rio de Janeiro coast (RJ), Patos Lagoon (RG), Prainha do Canto Verde (CE) + 7 inland nodes


Lobster Fisheries Management Committee

Multi-stakeholder body



CONAPE – Fisheries and Aquaculture National Council

Multi-stakeholder body


aNo – case number

bBA (Bahia), CE (Ceará), RJ (Rio de Janeiro), SP (São Paulo), PR (Paraná), SC (Santa Catarina), RG (Rio Grande do Sul), PE (Pernambuco)

cMarine Extractive Reserve (MER)

18.2.1 Key Events and Issues That Have Shaped CCM

Collaborative coastal management in Brazil is emerging in response to a number of factors, including threats and crises faced by the social-ecological systems (SES), opportunities generated from these new government policies, and initiatives led by universities and no-governmental organizations (NGOs) in support of social movements emerging from the democratization process initiated in the 1980s (Table 18.4). Most threats, such as port construction, oil and gas exploitation, road construction, and shrimp farming, resulted from coastal zone development activities. In response to the threats caused by shrimp farming projects during the 2000s, communities, NGOs, and university groups joined efforts to propose the establishment of two extractive reserves in Ibiraquera, Santa Catarina State (Case 15, Fabiano 2004), and Cassurubá, Bahia State (Case 1, Dias and Soares 2007).
Table 18.4

Examples of events and issues that have shaped collaborative coastal management in Brazil

People’s responses to threats from environmental factors and development

Threats from coastal development

Environmental compensation measures

Crises in the fisheries systems

Decline in fish production and fishers’ income

User group conflict: smaller-scale fishers vs. larger-scale fishers

User group conflict in small-scale fisheries: insiders vs. outsiders

Development of participatory research and partnerships with universities and NGOs

Action-oriented and participatory academic research

Environmental assessment

Support/partnership with universities and NGOs

Policies and legislations fostering CCM opportunities and the establishment of new arrangements

New arrangements and proposals for CCM

Policies and programs favoring CCM

Government openness to revise/change legislation

Establishment, implementation , or re-categorization of protected areas (conservation units)

Fisheries restriction inside and/or on the buffer zones of protected areas → conflict between artisanal fishers and managers

People exclusion from no-take protected areas

Establishment of sustainable use protected areas

Re-categorization of protected areas (from no-take to sustainable use protected areas)

Communities’ claims for recognition of cultural identity

The environmental compensation measures for such coastal development sometimes also have led to the establishment or implementation of protected areas in the coastal zone. According to Brazilian environmental policies, any company developing a project with an anticipated environmental impact must pay compensation measures to the government, which in turn is to allocate the amount received to protect areas with equivalent ecosystem characteristics. For example, environmental compensatory measures for oil and gas exploration in Rio de Janeiro state (SE coast) have been used to establish a new protected area (Case 5). In Santa Catarina, compensatory measures for building a road over a mangrove inside a protected area contributed to the establishment of a management council at the Pirajubaé Marine Extractive Reserve (Case 16).

Crises in fisheries systems, such as fish stock declines , fishers’ income declines, and user group conflicts, have resulted in the mobilization and organization of resource users and other relevant stakeholders to deal with these social-ecological problems with an increasing variety of other innovative mechanisms. Examples include the collapse of fish stocks at Patos Lagoon (Case 21) and Ibiraquera Lagoon (Case 18), which led to the establishment of multi-stakeholder bodies (forums) (Kalikoski et al. 2002; Adriano 2011). Another example focused on the decline in fisheries catch and user group conflict in Ilha Grande Bay, which led to the proposal for a fisheries agreement (Case 6b) (Araujo 2014).

User group conflict between smaller-scale fishers and middle-scale fishers triggered the establishment of marine extractive reserves in Arraial do Cabo (Case 4, Pinto da Silva 2004; Seixas 2008) and Corumbau (Case 2, Moura et al. 2009) and the mobilization of fishers in Santa Catarina (Case 18, Adriano 2011) and Patos Lagoon (Case 21, Kalikoski et al. 2002). Disputes over marine space have also triggered various conflicts. For instance, the top-down creation and later implementation and surveillance of a no-take protected marine reserve in an area traditionally used by small-scale fishers, which was established without even holding public hearings, led to conflicts between fishers and protected area managers (e.g., Tamoios Reserve at Ilha Grande Bay – Case 6a – and Arvoredo Reserve – Case 20) (Medeiros 2009; Begossi et al. 2010).

Participatory research by academics and environmental assessments by environmental firms, universities, and NGOs have triggered and supported new arrangements and partnerships that promote CCM. Examples in Table 18.3 include the littoral observatory in Santa Catarina State (Case 17), in which a pool of universities worked together with the public prosecutor’s office in providing technical advice to reduce environmental degradation in the coastal zone. Another example is the local ecosystem assessment project that led to the establishment of the Agenda 21 Forum of the Ibiraquera Lagoon (Case 18). Research projects with strong outreach components, which built capacity for local stakeholders to engage in CCM or provided technical support to coastal communities, took place in several areas (e.g., Cases 4, 7, 15). It is worth mentioning that various partnerships and support from foreign universities and international NGOs also contributed to the important development of social capital as part of these local initiatives, such as in Hastings (2011). In fact, the social capital that has been built within the various projects, as well as between them, has been and is still today a critical resource in advancing CCM in Brazil.

In the last two decades, a diversity of laws and policies fostering environmental protection and local development have created new opportunities for CCM. A special category of protected areas that includes local residents (e.g., marine extractive reserves – several cases) and the legal recognition of local practices (e.g., fishing agreements) are examples of new CCM arrangements that emerged from the 1990s (Castro 2002; Glaser and Oliveira 2004). Some policies and programs are presented in the introduction section of this summary. Of particular interest is the National System of Nature Conservation Units (SNUC), which opened opportunities for collaborative management in several protected areas as discussed below. The government’s openness to revise fisheries legislation based on fishers’ demands has also built opportunities for CCM, such as in the cases of revising dates for the seasonal closure of shrimp fishing. It is worth noting that a National Policy for the Territorial Development of Aquaculture and Fisheries was issued in 2008, which created potential opportunities for CCM, although currently no legal instruments are in place for its implementation.

The creation, implementation, or re-categorization of protected areas (PAs), mainly after the creation of the SNUC in 2000, have made possible a variety of new CCM processes. These collaborative processes originated either in the stakeholders possibility to participate in decision-making within the management councils of some PAs or in the mobilization of resource users in the face of use and access restrictions imposed by protected areas’ rules, such as those at Tamoios Ecological Station and Serra da Bocaina National Park in Paraty (both Cases 6 and 7) and at the Arvoredo Biological Reserve (Case 20). In many cases, use and access restrictions in PAs have led to conflict between fishers and PA managers. The top-down establishment of marine environmental protected areas (APAs), along the coast of São Paulo state in 2008 (Cases 12 and 13), triggered a sequence of mobilizing events among fishers that forced the government to open new spaces for dialogue and negotiation .

Finally, the quest for recognition of cultural identity has led to community mobilization. Cases that exemplify this process are Trindade, a caiçara community (Case 7, Araujo 2014), Maroons (Quilombolas) community at Mandira Marine Extractive Reserve (Case 10), and communities located in the south-central coast of Santa Catarina (Case 15). In all cases, cultural identity concerns were primary triggers of these local developments. Advancements for CCM in Recent Years

Overall, there has been a significant series of advancements related to CCM in recent years in Brazil (Table 18.5). The re-democratization processes that has taken place in Brazil since the 1980s, the recognition of fishing agreements in 2002, the creation of the National Council for Fisheries and Aquaculture (CONAPE) in 2004, and the design of the ecological-economic zoning for the São Paulo coast (Case 11) in 2008 are some examples of public policies and legislation that foster the participation of resource users in CCM processes.
Table 18.5

Examples of advancements in CCM in Brazil

Legislation and public policies fostering user participation in resource management and CCM

Designing the ecological-economic zoning for São Paulo coast (communities were consulted and their concerns/suggestions were taken into account in the design) (Case 11)

Creation or improved performance of arenas for CCM

Institutionalization of protected areas’ management councils (e.g., Case 4 in 2010, case 19 in 2005)

Empowerment of community-based organizations

Building capacity among rural youth (program of the rural development ministry (MDA) – e.g., course on agroecology and fisheries coop in Imbituba and Garopaba, SC (Case 18 and 19);, participatory fisheries monitoring at Corumbau MER (Case 2))

Trust building and partnerships among stakeholders

Increase and improvement of relations among different sectors (examples from RJ,,PR, and SC states; Cases 6–7, 15, 19)

Establishment of partnership with the public prosecutor office (Case 17)

Recognition of traditional/local ecological knowledge (TEK/LEK) and its use in management

Incorporation of TEK/LEK in official management initiatives (e.g., Cases 4 and 10)

Networks for knowledge exchange and building: users network, research network, technical assistance network

Research-action networks (cases 22 and 23) and science-policy network (Case 17)

Universities’ roles in (a) building capacity, (b) research on CCM, and (c) support/partnership with community-based organizations and government

Strengthened university links with fishers (e.g., Case 7)

Funding agencies support for research, capacity building, and technical assistance in CCM

Funding agency support to research and outreach programs on CCM (e.g., Case 7)

Increased number of government staff trained for CCM

Commitment of government managers to new management directions (Case 19)

Government actions to support development of fisheries and fishing communities

Fisheries legislation revision (Case 2, 13, 20, 21)

Improvement of fisheries monitoring (Case 2 and 13)

Examples of new, and improvement of existing, arenas for CCM include the institutionalization of protected areas management councils (Cases 4 and 19), the establishment of watershed management councils (case 9), the establishment of fishing forums (Cases 18 and 21), the implementation of processes for creating new marine extractive reserves (MER) (Case 15), and the development of new or revised management plans (e.g., Cases 6.a, 20, and 21).

Empowerment of community-based organizations has also contributed to CCM. The strengthening of democracy in Brazil allowed for the development of new community organizations, including new fisher organizations. Some capacity-building programs were also put in place as part of these efforts (e.g., Cases 2, 6b, 7, 18, and 19). There has been an increase in human and social capital, which in turn led to empowerment, self-identity, and increased visibility of many previously marginalized groups within society. New community voices are now being heard by government, and more are participating in decision-making related to sustainable resource use.

Building trust and partnerships among a diversity of stakeholders has been key to this advancement of CCM processes, and such changes deserve more recognition. Examples include increasing trust among partners and resource users (e.g., Cases 7, 10, 15, 19, and 21), increasing solidarity awareness among users with common interests (Case 23), improving trust relations with fisher representatives (e.g., Cases 15 and 16), and increasing fishers’ willingness to participate in CCM (e.g., Case 11).

The recognition of traditional and local ecological knowledge by the state and its use in management initiatives provides incentives for CCM. The recognition of traditional peoples and groups and the pool of knowledge they hold, as well as the exchange of local and scientific knowledge in some decision-making arenas, has contributed to CCM (e.g., Cases 4 and 10). Networks for knowledge building and exchange, such as research-action networks (Cases 22 and 23) and science-policy networking (Case 17), as well as new spaces for dialogue, knowledge exchange, and development of policy agendas, such as the National Fisheries Conferences, also have advanced collaboration among stakeholders.

The contribution of universities to advancing CCM includes (a) the establishment of training programs for building new capacities for communities, within universities and in the government; (b) research projects on CCM; and (c) in supporting and partnering with often critically important relationships with grassroots organizations and government initiatives, a trend that was observed in several cases. Support by funding agencies for research, capacity building , and technical assistance in CCM has also been crucial (e.g., Cases 7 and 21). Over the years, there has been an increased number of government staff trained for CCM, including those involved in enforcing legislation. Some government managers have also been more strongly committed to such new management directions (e.g., Case 19), thus increasing both the quality and number of government responses and initiatives toward CCM (Mendonça et al. 2014).

A series of government actions to support the development of fisheries and fishing communities has also promoted CCM. These include (i) the implementation of biodiversity conservation actions to improve fisheries in the longer term without affecting fisher well-being (e.g., Case 4); (ii) creation of protected areas for sustaining fishing communities (Cases 1, 2, 3, 4, and 10); (iii) issuing legislation favoring microcredit for fishers (national level), aquaculture licensing (Cases 4 and 8), and unemployment benefits (national level); (iv) revising fisheries legislation (e.g., Cases 2, 3, 20, and 21); (v) improving participatory fishing monitoring, for example, by scaling up small-scale fisheries in decision-making arenas as well as engaging fishers and providing learning opportunities for CCM (e.g., Cases 2 and 13); and (vi) discussing the re-categorization of some protected areas from no-take to sustainable use areas (e.g., Case 7 and 20).

18.2.2 Current Challenges to the Advancement of CCM in Brazil

Despite a significant number of recent achievements in CCM, there remains a multitude of challenges that hinder the needed advancement of CCM in Brazil (Table 18.6). A major challenge regards the low mobilization and participation of fishers in CCM processes, including the underrepresentation of the fisheries sector, the low legitimacy of fishers’ representatives, the high dependency of fishers on one organization or person, and the lack of autonomy of fishers. There is a need to legitimize other fishers’ organizations beyond fishers’ unions (“Colônias”) which typically remain poorly structured and organized. The legitimization of decision-making arenas at the local level is crucial to enhance management performance and stakeholder engagement in CCM (Fletcher 2007). It is also worth mentioning that the lack of short-term results has often led to user disinterest, which represents a major hindrance to CCM processes. Different views on stakeholders’ interests and outcomes affect their representations and, ultimately, CCM performance (Fletcher 2007).
Table 18.6

Summary of challenges for collaborative coastal management (CCM) in Brazil

Low mobilization/participation of fishers; low-level representativeness in management processes; lack of empowerment and legitimacy of leaders

Low-level capacity of users and government managers for CCM

Conflicting or overlapping government agencies’ agendas

Lack of effective participation of stakeholders in decision-making

Weak communication and lack of trust among stakeholders

Low dissemination and use of research results in management and policies

Discontinuity of management processes and policies

Few, or lack of, cross-scale dialogue and interactions

Lack of de facto implementation of CCM processes

Lack of flexibility and adequacy of government institutions

Strict focus on fisheries development only – instead of considering it within the context of sustainable territorial development

Discontinuity of funding support and better resource administration for CCM processes

Another challenge is the low capacity of users and government managers to engage in CCM. There remain serious deficiencies in areas around appropriate training and strategic planning for CCM. Wever et al. (2012) pointed out that government staff are given responsibilities without training in integrated, decentralized CCM. Technical support and facilitation skills are key to overcome this challenge (Lawless 2015). Fishers often lack information on fishing rules and legislation. Thus, there is a need for increased environmental awareness among all stakeholders and capacity building among local users in order to increase their ability to engage in CCM. The professionalization of the public administration in Brazil, including building the government’s capacity to assist local organizations, is also required.

Conflicting or overlapping government agenciesagendas are also major issues. Often, governments present a fragmentation of programs and policy ambiguities, such as observed by Wever et al. (2012) when comparing the implementation of decentralized coastal management in Brazil and Indonesia. Coastal management, fisheries management, protected areas management, and watershed management are not integrated into the same processes. As a result, there are overlapping actions and a lack of articulation among technical-scientific organizations, as well as institutional incongruence (Case 7, Araujo 2014). Conflicting agendas have often led to power imbalances regarding privatization and urbanization versus fishing communities’ permanence in their territories (e.g., Case 3). Overlapping agendas and management scales require a shifting perspective on governance. Multi-scale, adaptive governance is a well-recognized alternative approach for governing complex systems (Folke et al. 2005; Mahon et al. 2008; Bruckmeir 2014).

Lack of effective user participation in decision-making also hinders CCM. In some cases, CCM lacks the grounds for the participation and contribution of all stakeholders. For instance, the lack of consultation of some key sectors for the establishment of the marine environmental protected areas of São Paulo coast was a major shortcoming of this project (Cases 12 and 13). In other cases, participation is not legitimized, particularly in the case of the historical marginalization of the fisheries sector in decision-making. The uneven distribution of responsibility between government and fishers in decision-making remains an ongoing issue.

Weak communication and lack of trust among stakeholders remain key challenges for CCM. Communication may be deficient and hindered by social-political divergence among stakeholders, including government and user communities. The absence of political will by governments and lack of dialogue between government agencies (from different sectors and levels) and users were often mentioned as key challenges. The fisheries sector is not always recognized by local authorities, and hence, fishers argue that there is insufficient commitment by the local government for fisheries management.

Also related to communication, the low dissemination and use of research findings in management and policies are other issues to be addressed. Research results are seldom used as a basis for government regulations and are rarely disseminated to local communities and organizations. One possible way to minimize this problem is engaging stakeholders in research through participatory approaches. In fact, Trimble and Berkes (2013) demonstrated that such an approach can be a key stimulus toward CCM in their case study in Uruguay.

Often there is discontinuity of management processes and policies, which often results from frequent changes of government staff such as protected area managers. The lack of cross-scale dialogues and interactions is another challenge. In several cases, reconciling local and national interests is required for integrating local concerns with macro-project decision-making, building learning networks at different levels (local, regional, and federal), and using scientific knowledge and local knowledge concurrently.

A de facto implementation of CCM processes is still required in many cases. CCM processes are complex and full of conflicts that hinder their implementation (e.g., Cases 15 and 6b). Additionally, implementation of government committees and projects related to CCM has been slow and needs improvement in order to be effective.

The lack of flexibility and adequacy of government institutions is reflected in factors such as (i) the prevalence of institutional rigidity; (ii) the pervasiveness of intricate bureaucracy; (iii) unrealistic regulations; (iv) limited change in institutional ethos despite improvements in the legal institutional setting; and (v) limited alternatives for the legal recognition of CCM processes . Hence, there is a strong need for the development of new approaches.

The strict focus on fisheries development of some initiatives, instead of considering it within the context of sustainable territorial development, has been a challenge for CCM (e.g., Cases 4 and 21). This is noted through challenges including (i) the lack of a territorial view of fisheries by fishers; (ii) conflict between small-scale fisheries and development processes; (iii) conflict between endogenous development and the government approach to oil exploitation; and (iv) the need for increasing community well-being with no increase on resource exploitation pressure.

A final but crucial challenge relates to the discontinuity of funding support and adequate resourcing for administration of CCM processes. Often there exist serious discontinuities of funding with a prevalence of short-term projects. This situation, when combined with a lack of financial control of initiatives, a rigid fiscal structure, and a lack of tax incentives, also creates severe barriers of fund-raising. Finally, the existence of conflicts between different interests may also restrict funds and human resources for implementing CCM initiatives. In fact, CCM takes place in a highly politicized environment, given that changes in government due to partisan dynamics often lead to changes in government-appointed positions (“cargo de confiança”), institutional arrangements, and political priorities.

18.2.3 Future Perspectives for CCM in Brazil

The analysis of the expanding pool of experiences related to CCM in Brazil reveals that the specific cases range from initial stages of CCM implementation (such as the case of the fisheries agreement in the Ilha Grande Bay Case 6b) to more advanced processes (such as the implementation of a management council and the development of a management plan for the marine extractive reserve in Corumbau, Bahia, Case 2). Hence, what may be a challenge at one site may have been overcome at another site. This is certainly observed in Table 18.7 when comparing the list of achievements of, and challenges to, CCM in Brazil from Tables 18.5 and 18.6. In fact, the limited action and opportunities to encourage more knowledge sharing across and between such groups and processes may be one of major challenges to advancing CCM in Brazil.
Table 18.7

Challenges and achievements of CCM

Key elements



Communication and trust among stakeholders

Weak communication and lack of trust among stakeholders

Networks for knowledge exchange: users network, research network, technical assistance network

Few, or lack of, cross-scale dialogues and interactions

Trust building and partnerships among stakeholders

Low dissemination and use of research results in management and policies

Recognition of traditional/local ecological knowledge (TEK/LEK) and its use in management

Effective participation of users in CCM

Low mobilization/participation of fishers; low-level representativeness in management processes; lack of empowerment and legitimacy of leaders

Legislations and public policies fostering user participation in resource management and CCM

Lack of effective participation of stakeholders in decision-making

Empowerment of community-based organizations

Capacity building for CCM

Low-level capacity of users and government managers for CCM

Universities’ roles in (a) building capacity, (b) research on CCM, and (c) support/partnership with community-based organizations and government

Discontinuity of funding support and better resource administration for CCM processes

Funding agencies support for research, capacity building, and technical assistance in CCM

Increased number of government staff trained for CCM

The role of government in CCM

Strict focus on fisheries development only – instead of considering it within the context of sustainable territorial development

New or improved arenas for CCM

De facto implementation of CCM processes

Government actions to support development of fisheries and fishing communities

Conflicting or overlapping government agencies’ agendas

Lack of flexibility and adequacy of government institutions

Discontinuity of management processes and policies

aIn bold are the challenges that have yet to be overcome in most if not in all case studies

In light of the findings from these cases , the following question has emerged: how best can more and deeper probing be encourage into a better understanding of these real challenges? To answer this question, we grouped the findings from Tables 18.5 and 18.6 into what we call key elements for CCM: (i) communication, trust building, and partnerships; (ii) effective user participation; (iii) capacity building; and (iv) government role. These key elements are presented in Table 18.7.

The comparison between challenges and achievements summarized in Table 18.7 reveals three bundles of underlying factors limiting the advances of CCM in Brazil: (1) the misrepresentation and legitimacy of user organizations; (2) political culture and government praxis; and (3) knowledge gaps.

Political misrepresentation stems from a long-lasting history of a nationwide network of fishers’ unions (Colônias de Pescadores) established in 1912. These organizations were under government control and focused on the national security of the riparian and coastal territory (Breton et al. 1996). The fishers’ unions were established through a top-down process in which the union head was selected by local elites and registration was compulsory. This resulted in the fishers’ unions acting as a depoliticizing machine in that they suppressed dissent through their control of fishers by local political and economic elites. From the 1940s, when compulsory registration was abolished, the fishers’ unions were consolidated as an organization of large-scale, industrial fishers. Only after the democratization process was initiated in the 1980s have the fishers’ unions gradually become more representative of small-scale fishers in some parts of the country.

As of 1994, fishers affiliated to the fishers’ union became eligible for unemployment payments during seasonal fishery closures. As a result, the fast increase in membership has been driven more by economic motivations than political empowerment. Such motivations have limited the representativeness of the unions in the decision-making process. In the past decades, fishers showed many achievements. In particular, representation of a diversity of fishers has been achieved by organizations other than Colônias . Despite the few cases in which the Colônias are seen as the legitimate representatives of fishers’ interests (at least by the government), organizational capacity remains weak, and institutional restructuring is vital to improve the transparency, accountability, and legitimacy by all, including a large range of fishers.

The second bundle of underlying factors limiting CCM is related to the political culture and government praxis in Brazil. The conservation agenda of the Ministry of Environment (MMA) and the development agenda of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA) are often contradictory and lead to conflicts, environmental degradation, and social inequalities. The Environment Ministry undertakes coastal management programs (GERCO), protected areas management, and watershed management, often without adequate communication with other related agencies. The institutional innovations surrounding interministerial fisheries governance between the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Ministry of Environment opened new opportunities to overcoming this structural problem. However, limited institutional capacity, combined with the political instability of governmental agencies, restrains the continuity and consistency of long-term management processes and policies – a common problem in Latin America (Salas et al. 2007). The lack of flexibility and adequacy of government institutions creates additional barriers to the development of adaptive management processes. Adaptive management typically requires periodic adjustments guided by improved knowledge, assessment of outcomes, and new realities.

Both bundles of underlying factors are related to the perceptions of users and governmental agencies toward one another. On one side, the institutional ethos of governmental agencies maintains a “clientelistic relation” with local users; on the other side, local users perceive the state either as an oppressor or the benefit provider, often exacerbating deeply rooted dependent relationship. Unless this patron-client relationship is transformed into true partnerships, participatory progress will be limited (Castro 2012).

The third bundle of underlying factors posing significant challenges for conducting CCM in Brazil is related to knowledge gaps and lack of communication. There is an urgent need to improve communication and dialogue between different actors – between government and civil society, government and researchers, researchers and civil society, and within each group. Often there is information and knowledge about various aspects related to CCM that is not used (or misused) due to, for example, (i) asymmetry of access to information by different actors and (ii) ambiguous technical language used by different actors that results in different interpretations of information and often prevents the effective communication of specific messages. In addition, there is a lack of comprehensive knowledge among stakeholders about relevant legislation and the main concepts and tools that help to implement CCM processes and an absence of efficient mechanisms to put recommendations proposed by the research community into practice.

The lack of a careful evaluation of the lessons learned from experiences in CCM (what has worked, what has not, and why), including an assessment of the effects of CCM on the overall socio-ecological system, was also reported as an important gap by several participants at the workshop . Three other points raised include the need to (i) evaluate the transaction costs of collaborative management, including evaluation of appropriate communication strategies for CCM; (ii) investigate challenges about emergent problems, such as the impact of climate change on coastal areas; and (iii) explore the potentialities of institutional innovations related to CCM.

It was also noted that a number of challenges remain that would benefit from further research. These areas included (i) the sociopolitical conditions necessary to successful implementation of CCM; (ii) the dynamics of resource users, including their customs and practices; (iii) the role of gender in CCM; (iv) the threats associated with the erosion of coastal communities’ livelihoods; (v) the role of education in environmental management; (vi) the impacts associated with the land use and sea use and their effects on the coastal zone; and (vii) the key factors and interactions that contribute to (un)sustainability. Finally, from a theoretical and methodological perspective, the following challenges were highlighted: (i) the need to use a clear and common language, both in use of key terms and concepts, and (ii) the importance of establishing a stronger link between the theory of the commons and the global environmental crisis.

18.3 Conclusions

A review of collaborative coastal management cases within a national context was performed with a focus on Brazil. In bringing together people with direct experience of CCM cases, it was possible to create a summary of what has been learned during the last 30 years and identify key areas for future research. Brazil provides an interesting national context due to the transition to democracy and the increase in civil society participation in many sectors of the economy. Perhaps what became most apparent in this review is that CCM was not a rational, steady process of national implementation but a lurching and often challenging forward and backward process in which communities and other civil society actors pushed for increased participation within specific contexts. This reflects the complexity of the Brazilian context and the influence that specific contexts have on shaping the experience of CCM. Complexity also emerged across the cases due to the great diversity of coastal ecosystems, economic activities, and social interactions. It also became evident that different cases reveal different degrees of asymmetric access across regions, and among actors, to resources (e.g., knowledge, power, finances, markets, technology, and fishing grounds). One thing that was shared by most cases was the broader national context prevalent during this period that was often characterized by rapid change within political, social, economic, and cultural systems.

The degree of ecological complexity and uncertainty, along with existing knowledge gaps, suggests that CCM will continue to benefit from an approach of sharing experiences among cases as well as an approach of ongoing learning. The identification of the challenges highlighted in this chapter should not lead to inaction but rather a continuous process of social interaction with a shared goal of improving efficiency, equity, and legitimacy as part of the implementation of CCM. The Brazilian cases reveal that CCM has the potential to move away from the lexicon of management panacea, often consisting of simple prescribed solutions for complex challenges, to an arena for knowledge building, sharing, and more balanced power relations in decision-making processes. However, this approach will require continued attention to structural problems that limit effective participation, representativeness , and communication among stakeholders in new and future CCM initiatives.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristiana Simão Seixas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Iain Davidson-Hunt
    • 2
  • Daniela C. Kalikoski
    • 3
  • Brian Davy
    • 4
  • Fikret Berkes
    • 2
  • Fabio de Castro
    • 5
  • Rodrigo Pereira Medeiros
    • 6
  • Carolina V. Minte-Vera
    • 7
  • Luciana G. Araujo
    • 8
  1. 1.Environmental Study and Research CenterUniversity of CampinasCampinasBrazil
  2. 2.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.FAORomeItaly
  4. 4.University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  5. 5.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Centro de Estudo do MarUniversidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  7. 7.State University of MaringaMaringáBrazil
  8. 8.University of CampinasCampinasBrazil

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