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This paper reviews the fisheries management question of inland (floodplain) systems in the developing world and proposes a paradigm shift in approach. Inland fisheries management is largely based on classical fisheries formulations derived on temperate freshwater and marine single-stock fisheries. The basic models to manage inland fisheries are based on steady state equilibrium models. However, inland, flood-pulsed fisheries are dynamic and driven by external factors which are incongruent with the classical approach. Therefore, adopting this management approach in inland, flood-pulsed fisheries has created a management conundrum because of the obvious fundamental differences that exist between these two systems. Marine fisheries contribute to the macroeconomic growth of fishing countries, inland fisheries from developing countries are largely focused on recreational activities,
while inland (floodplain) fisheries are key sources of food and nutrition security for marginalized riparian communities in the developing world. This review also uses lessons from the Okavango Delta fishery to illustrate the uniqueness of floodplain fisheries and the management questions therein. One key debate highlighted in this review is that inland fisheries are a livelihood of the last resort for poor (and sometimes malnourished) communities. Management should therefore mainstream this value into management interventions, especially since a sustainable utilization of this resource can assist developing countries to achieve some of the MDG’s. The paper concludes with an argument
of the need for a paradigm shift in inland fisheries management, where key factors such as enhanced data collection, co-management regimes based on “real” democratic principles constitute some of the germane attributes of fisheries management plans.