Participation in local management initiatives

Assessments of case studies that have resulted in the successful mitigation of harmful effects of user activities or conflicts (excluding shoreline species collection, for which there are very few examples of successful best practice) virtually always highlight the importance of community participation and support for the management initiatives. Such consensus can only be achieved following detailed consultation and discussion of the management proposals. This community participation is of virtually equal importance whether the management is wholly voluntary or backed by legal measures. However, as noted in the previous section, it is subject to the same constraints as the national codes of conduct for bait collection – the difficulties not only of contacting all regular users of the shore, but particularly those users who are only visiting the area. Advertising through local tackle shops and bait outlets is likely to be the best means of publicising such initiatives.

It is unrealistic to assume that this type of community involvement does not require as many resources, at least initially, as needed for the imposition, management and enforcement of legal controls. Setting up an effective local management initiative is expensive and may take many years, including periods of review, reassessment and changes to management until an acceptable and satisfactory regime is achieved. In the much longer term, however, this approach is likely to result in a much greater degree of compliance and effectiveness (and ultimately lower costs) than simply by enacting legal regulation in the absence of consultation and consensus and having to resort to very expensive prosecutions to enforce this.

With regard to the collection of shoreline species, any of the management techniques listed here that are applied following public consultation are more likely to receive consensus. Given the extensive experience of coastal managers developing estuary management plans, Shoreline Management Plans and marine SAC management plans, it is not considered necessary to cover the process of community involvement in detail here.

The most recent case studies, for example regulating the placement of crab shelters to aid with the collection of peeler and soft shell crabs in south-western estuaries, are still developing and it is too early to determine how well they will succeed. They do, however, look promising, not least because of the way in which commercial and recreational crab collectors have become organised into identifiable user groups that are undertaking discussions with local site managers and are able to police their own group’s activities on the shore.

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