As with other forms of governance, fisheries, and coastal management rests ultimately on power; power to decide, enforce, and implement management decisions. Power is in this sense a productive force. Without it, managers could not do their job. But power can also be disruptive, corruptive, and, hence, negative. It can be used to block management initiatives and/or to make management serve special interests, creating thus inequity and injustice. Therefore, power in fisheries and coastal management involves potentials as well as risks, making it one of the key challenges in institutional design. Yet, although power is perhaps the most central issue in social science, a literature search on power in fisheries and coastal management research yields very little. We may wonder why this is so. But what is power in the first place? Where does power sit? And what does power actually do? How can fisheries and coastal management benefit from the way social scientists have debated these questions? This paper attempts to demonstrate what power involves and how it should be addressed in fisheries and coastal management research.
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