Classifying fishers' behaviour. An invitation to fishing styles

Author(s): Boonstra, W.J., J. Hentati-Sundberg
In: Fish and Fisheries
Year: 2014
Type: Journal / article
Link to centre authors: Boonstra, Wijnand
Full reference: Boonstra, W.J., J. Hentati-Sundberg 2014. Classifying fishers' behaviour. An invitation to fishing styles. Fish and Fisheries, epub, DOI: 10.1111/faf.12092


The study and classification of fishers’ behaviour remains a much debated topic. There is a tension between detailed empirical studies, which highlight the variety and diversity of fisheries, and the parsimony and generalization required to satisfy science and policy demands.

This study contributes to this debate. The first section reviews quantitative methods currently used for classifying fishing practices. The review uncovers significant weaknesses in quantitative classification methods, which, we argue, can be improved through the complementary use of qualitative methods. To this purpose, we introduce the concept of ‘fishing style’, which integrates quantitative classification methods with qualitative analysis.

We explain the scientific premises of the fishing-style concept, outline a general methodological framework and present a fishing-style analysis of Swedish Baltic Sea fisheries. Based on these results, we conclude that it is possible to classify fishing practices in a relatively uniform and limited number of styles that can highlight the rich, empirical diversity of fishers’ behaviour. We therefore propose that fishing-style analysis, based on an integration of quantitative and qualitative methods, can be an important step towards more effective and sustainable fisheries management.

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