Different fishing styles complement each other and maintain a diversity of skills and knowledge in fisheries that help safeguard resilience. Photo: M. Almqvist/Azote

Fisheries management

Diversity in fishers' behaviour; a matter of style

Inefficient fisheries management can be effectivised by further classifying fishing practices and styles

Story highlights

  • Centre researchers Wijnand Boonstra and Jonas Hentati-Sundberg introduce the concept 'fishing styles'
  • Fishing style research complements conventional quantitative categorization with qualitative research methods
  • A loss of diversity in fishing styles would reduce the resilience of the fishing sector as a whole

Introducing Fishing Styles
Overfishing remains a threat to marine fish populations and disrupts the livelihoods of the 540 million people who depend on fisheries for their daily needs. Even though the negative impacts of overfishing are well known, global fishing endeavours continue to grow, illustrating the ineffectiveness of current fisheries management.

An often-recognized shortcoming of fisheries management is its failure to adequately account for the dynamic variety of fishing operations. Management that is inconsistent or incompatible with fishing practices will weaken fishers' confidence in the legitimacy and fairness of management policies, and will consequently create strong incentives for non-compliant behaviour.

Consequently, policymakers who account for the diversity in fishing practices, and the underlying values and interests of different groups of fishers, can create better conditions for maximizing compliance and reducing enforcement costs.

In a recently published article Centre researchers Wijnand Boonstra and Jonas Hentati-Sundberg introduce the concept 'fishing styles'. Fishing style research complements conventional quantitative categorization with qualitative research methods.

"As a theoretical concept, 'fishing styles' helps bringing different approaches together by combining quantitative descriptions of how fishers fish with qualitative methods that highlight why fishers fish"

Wijnand Boonstra, lead author

Swedish Baltic fishing styles
In the article the authors demonstrate how fishing styles can be operationalized theoretically and methodologically with results from research on Swedish Baltic Sea fisheries.

Based on their analysis Boonstra and Hentati-Sundberg identified three different fishing styles: Archipelago fishing; Coastal fishing; and Offshore trawling. These three styles differ according to the organisation and diversity of fishing practices, the normative opinions and values that fishers hold, and their dependence on social and environmental contexts.

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Previous research shows that policies accounting for the diversity in fishing practices, and the underlying values and interests of different groups of fishers, can create better conditions for maximizing compliance and reducing enforcement costs.

"By classifying fishing practices, without simplifying them in a misrepresentative way, we end up with a limited number of fishing styles that can guide management decisions in a way that can incentivize compliance and better account for ecosystem interactions," Hentati-Sundberg concludes.

Strengthening diversity as policy objective
An important conclusion from Boonstra and Hentati-Sundberg's paper is that policymakers are advised to account for diversity in fishing practices if they want to achieve social equity and the development of coastal regions and fisheries. Based on their findings the authors believe that current EU fisheries regulation and Swedish national fisheries policy strengthen the fishing style of offshore trawling, but undermine archipelago and coastal fishing styles.

A loss of diversity in fishing practices would reduce the resilience of the fishing sector as a whole. According to the authors a first, crucial step to counter this trend would be to acknowledge that fishers' attitudes and behaviour differ. Secondly, it is important to use this knowledge to target fisheries with various different policy instruments.

"Safeguarding the diversity and variety in a fishery helps to maintain a wide range of skills and knowledge that, in turn, can contribute to the general and long-term resilience of the fishery and the social-ecological system of which it is a part. The adaptive capacity of the Baltic Sea fisheries is therefore best enhanced through governance that facilitates the continued and dynamic co-existence of diverse fishing styles," they conclude.

Citation

Citation

Boonstra, W.J., Hentati-Sundberg, J. 2014. Classifying fishers' behaviour. An invitation to fishing styles. Fish and Fisheries. 15:1467-2979

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More about publication in Swedish press

Wijnand Boonstra's research explores on Regime shifts and modeling of complex adaptive ecosystems and governance in the Baltic Sea.

Jonas Hentati-Sundberg focuses his research on social-ecological dynamics in the marine systems and particularly behaviour, drivers and links in fisheries.

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