Keywords: fishing communities, fisheries management, fisheries policy, local ecological knowledge, LEK, cooperative research, ecosystems based management, social practice of fishing, fisheries social science, human dimensions, fish stocks
Communities, knowledge and fisheries of the future
The 'human dimension' in fisheries management has historically been incorporated via a specific economic understanding of fisheries wedded to a single-species approach. Meeting the challenge of fisheries, however, will require a broadening of fisheries science towards an ecosystems-based approach. There is also the need for a parallel shift in social science understandings of fishing towards context and interrelationships amongst and between fishermen and fishing communities. While the move towards ecosystems is well underway, a corresponding movement in fisheries social science is less well established. The latter will require a commitment to new sources of data, methods and forms and scales of analysis. Promising initiatives that align with ecosystem-based approaches include the documentation and incorporation of Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK), cooperative research that bridges communicative and epistemological gaps between fishermen and scientists and community-level data collections and analyses emerging from legislative mandates and community-based advocacy. These examples suggest a reorientation of fisheries social science in step with ecosystem approaches.