The decline of small-scale fisheries : a case study in Blekinge, Sweden
Abstract: Fisheries serve as an essential food source, livelihood, and cultural identity for millions of people around the world. As global fish stocks decline and the world’s population grows, the use and management of this resource has become an important issue. Within fisheries, small-scale fisheries (SSF) are of significant importance: they comprise 90 percent of the world’s capture fisheries, and are environmentally and socially preferable to large-scale operations. While SSF are increasing in the majority of the world, they are decreasing in Europe. Through a case study in Blekinge, Sweden, this study looks at the decline of SSF in the Baltic Sea in an effort to better understand why SSF are in deteriorating in “developed” countries. In coordination with the Stockholm Resilience Center, data was collected using in-depth semi structured interviews with fishers and other stakeholders. The study found that the predominant use and weight of quantitative and scientific data in policy formation, in combination with a lack of input from fishers, is creating policies that fail to capture crucial environmental, social, and cultural aspects of SSF and are thus ineffective in supporting fishers to maintain their livelihoods and way of life. In assessing the current components used to classify fishers, it can be recommended that increased attention be given to qualitative analysis of fishers, improving the understanding of fishers’ motivations, preferences, habits, social needs and norms. Using “fishing styles”, which incorporate qualitative data in addition to quantitative data, would give policy makers a better understanding of small-scale fisheries and those working in this realm. Addressing this issue is of crucial importance if the livelihoods, generations of knowledge, culture, and traditions associated with SSF will sustain.
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