Collaboration or Contention? Decentralised marine Governance in Berau

R. Kusumawati, L.E. Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Conservation of marine space is a new frontier in environmentalists’ involvement with resource governance in Indonesia. The coastal and marine area of Berau was established as a District Marine Conservation Area (MCA) based on District Head Regulation No. 31/2005. The total MCA of 1.27 million ha was expected to become part of the wider MCA networks of the East Borneo Seascape and the Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion, as well as of the Coral Triangle international network of conservation areas in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The Berau MCA was developed in collaboration between the Berau district government and international environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). They claimed to use a new concept of partnership with the decentralised district government as the principal institutional partner. However, the governance framework is full of legal disconnects due to decentralisation of resource management, and its implementation faces the real-life challenges of political-economic and historical valuations of the marine environment producing conflicts of interest between the multi-scalar actors involved. Following the very process of establishing the Berau MCA over a five-year period (2005–2010), this paper shows why it is necessary to understand how collaboration and contention are constructed and in turn construct actors' perceptions and perspectives on marine conservation and resource extraction in decentralised coastal governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-46
JournalAnthropological Forum : a journal of social anthropology and comparative sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • fisheries comanagement
  • management
  • indonesia


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