There is a paradox emerging in coastal Mozambique between oil and gas development, a highly centralized decision-making process with highly decentralized social and environmental impacts, and decentralized community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) Within a highly centralized and centralizing fossil fuel development system, the state decentralizes management of the renewable resources most subject to deterioration from fossil fuel production, to local, often ill-defined and historically disempowered 'communities'. However, it is precisely the paradox within these divergent policies in Mozambique that may allow the ‘frontier’ extractive state to avoid the socioeconomic and environmental pitfalls which have befallen other Sub-Saharan African oil producers by opening political spaces for local voices. It is my hypothesis that coastal conservation systems with CBNRM components create sets of overlapping, redundant and nested institutions that can provide strategic opportunities for local actors to make claims on the larger fossil fuel development decision-making process. I will test this hypothesis by answering the following questions: What constraints does the structure of extractive industry-state relations in ‘frontier’ areas create for local access to political space? How do the institutions of CBNRM incorporate and/or interact with local livelihood institutions and the overlapping set of actors in extractive zones? How, and for whom do institutions of CBNRM increase or decrease access to state decision-making?