Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries

Trust Me on This One

Shawn J. Riley

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874608.ch66

No matter where you are in the world, no matter what your interests are, the work of conservation is accomplished through management within a framework of governance, which is affected by worldwide trends of democratization and globalization. In the simplest sense, “governance” refers to the totality of instruments and mechanisms available to collectively steer a society. Governance is not solely the province of governments. Governance is about how organizations function and how conservation gets accomplished. That governance may involve considerable public participation processes, and additional steps to assure transparency can be frustrating to scientists, who come to believe that enough knowledge exists if only politics wouldn’t get in the way. Leaders who are effective in achieving sustained conservation for the well-being of fish and humans have discovered that it may not always be efficient, but it is more cost-effective to practice concepts of good governance.

Trust is keenly intertwined with governance and effective leadership; trust is often referred to as a lubricant of organizational functioning. Concern has grown about erosion of trust in science and government, and those worries spill over into the practice of scientific fisheries management. At one level, “trust” has no definitive meaning. Rather, it has a broad array of meanings. There is a common dispositional trust, in that it’s a personality trait to generally trust people. Most theorists, however, converge on what I believe is most applicable to public conservation leaders: trust as an encapsulated interest. That is, to say I trust you with respect to some matter means that I have reason to believe you will act in my best interest in that matter. Encapsulated trust is commonly defined as a willingness of one entity to be vulnerable to the discretionary actions of another. In the case of public fisheries management, an agency, or trustee, is empowered through discretionary actions (fisheries management) to increase benefits and reduce costs associated with fisheries resources.