Around two-thirds of fishers in that country are employed in the artisanal subsector. In Angola, co-operatives are the preferred vehicle for structuring stakeholder interaction in the subsector. The role of co-operatives is also considered in the light of research findings that indicate that, when it comes to governance, institutions (and in the case of common-pool resources, particularly local institutions) matter. By definition, co-operatives are voluntary ‘bottomup’ enterprises characterised by mutual self-help. At their best, these unique institutional characteristics mean that co-operatives have the potential to marry the value rationality of civil society with the efficiency rationality of the market. However, turning the governance potential of co-operatives into reality requires a careful consideration of context-specific opportunities and challenges.
The paper begins by situating fisheries governance within wider theories of natural resource governance. It then outlines the international context of fisheries governance, and in particular, artisanal fisheries worldwide. It then describes Angola’s fish stocks and regulatory environment, before focusing on co-operatives in Angola’s artisanal fishing sector. The paper concludes that fisheries co-operatives’ greatest governance contribution is the way in which they can enhance local–national linkages. This happens as a previously informal sector gradually formalises. Throughout the process, it is important to respect and support the unique institutional characteristics of co-operatives.
SAIIA sincerely thanks those who acted as peer reviewers for this paper.