While there is substantial literature about the socio-cultural characteristics and values associated with recreational and commercial fisheries in the U.S., studies directed at those who ‘fish for food’—those who depend on consuming their catch to various degrees—are relatively sparse. Using qualitative data collected through 80 semi-structured interviews with fishers in the summer and fall of 2018 in Carteret County, North Carolina, this study aims to better understand the group of recreational fishers who consume their catch by describing social and cultural dimensions and values associated with fishing for food, examining the role of infrastructure in facilitating access to benefits associated with this activity, and considering how knowledge of existing licensing regulations surrounding subsistence license waivers affect this fishing community. Interviews conducted at free public fishing structures in the region revealed that fishers derive a variety of values and benefits from fishing at these sites, including access to recreation, nutrition, a social community, and mental health benefits, which were found to be negatively impacted by Hurricane Florence in September 2018. We also found an informal economy of sharing catch on- and off-site that extends the reach and benefits facilitated by public infrastructure to people beyond those using it directly. Overall, we call for conceptualizations of ‘fishing for food’ that include aspects that go beyond traditional definitions of ‘subsistence’ or ‘recreational’ fishing such as food security, access, and less obvious social and cultural motivations behind the activity. These findings are a compelling rationalization for the creation and maintenance of formal and informal fishing places locally and, by extension, in other coastal areas, given the array of benefits provided by access to these types of locations.
Social-Ecological Systems and Human Wellbeing
Seagrass ecosystems provide critical contributions (goods and perceived benefits or detriments) for the livelihoods and wellbeing of Pacific Islander peoples. Through in-depth examination of the contributions provided by seagrass ecosystems across the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), we find a greater quantity in the Near Oceania (New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands) and western Micronesian (Palau and Northern Marianas) regions; indicating a stronger coupling between human society and seagrass ecosystems. We also find many non-material contributions historically have been overlooked and under-appreciated by decision-makers. Closer cultural connections likely motivate guardianship of seagrass ecosystems by Pacific communities to mitigate local anthropogenic pressures. Regional comparisons also shed light on general and specific aspects of the importance of seagrass ecosystems to Pacific Islanders, which are critical for forming evidence-based policy and management to ensure the long-term resilience of seagrass ecosystems and the contributions they provide.
Developing solutions to the complex and uncertain problems facing marine and coastal social-ecological ecosystems requires new forms of knowledge production and integration. While progress has been made both in terms of successfully producing integrated marine research and connecting that knowledge to decision-makers, a number of significant challenges remain that prevent the routine development and implementation of successful integrated research practice. Based on our own experiences as social researchers working within interdisciplinary research teams, we contend that one of the main barriers to successful integrative marine research relates to understanding, and where possible reconciling, the different epistemologies that unpin how knowledge is created or discovered in different disciplines. We therefore aim to provide an accessible introduction to the concept of epistemology, with a focus on its importance and influence to integrated marine research practice. Specifically, we present and discuss five questions of research design that relate to epistemology in integrative research practices: (1) What is the object of study we seek to create knowledge about; (2) how do we create knowledge; (3) who accepts knowledge as ‘true’ and how?; (4) how do we determine the epistemology underpinning marine science; and (5) what are the implications of epistemology for applied integrative marine science? We demonstrate the application of each question through a hypothetical case study of marine restoration, focusing on coral transplanting. Finally, we offer readers a simple heuristic to guide them, irrespective of career stage or discipline, to understand and account for epistemology when participating in integrative marine research practices.
This study provides an in-depth understanding of the causes and consequences of sleep loss and fatigue in the coral reef tourism industry. Utilizing a qualitative methodology, data were obtained from eight focus groups conducted in Far North Queensland with 42 reef tourism employees. Analysis involved identifying and inductively coding any emergent categories of the causes and consequences of sleep loss and fatigue. Findings are applied to Baum, Kralj, Robinson, and Solnet's (2016) taxonomy of tourism research to highlight where the causes of sleep loss and fatigue originate. This reflects individual, occupational and industry-level causes of sleep loss and fatigue which workers indicate have consequences for their wellbeing, and the safety and efficacy of their operations. Implications for the broader tourism industry are discussed.
Managing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is about managing human behaviours, but decision-making processes have traditionally focussed on ecological aspects, treating social aspects as secondary. It is now becoming more evident that an equal focus on the ecological and social aspects is required. Without the collection of information about social aspect such as impacts and sharing this as well as ecological information with communities, MPAs are at higher risk of opposition and social acceptability problems. This paper explores the development of a wellbeing framework to understand the social aspects, including the impacts of MPAs on the wellbeing of local communities. This research investigates two case study MPAs: Cape Byron and Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Parks in New South Wales, Australia. The MPAs are multiple-use and were implemented in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The research began with a review of the literature, followed by fieldwork, including semi-structured qualitative interviews with community members. Through thematic coding of the interview transcripts in light of the literature on assessing the social impacts of MPAs, a community wellbeing framework of domains and associated attributes was developed to investigate social impacts. Our analysis shows; first, local perspectives are crucial to understanding social impacts. Second, understanding social impacts gives insight into the nature of trade-offs that occur in decision-making regarding MPAs. Third, the intangible social impacts experienced by local communities are just as significant as the tangible ones for understanding how MPAs operate. Fourth, governance impacts have been the most influential factor affecting the social acceptability of the case study parks. We argue that failure to address negative social impacts can undermine the legitimacy of MPAs. We propose that the framework will support policymakers to work towards more effective, equitable and socially sustainable MPAs by employing much-needed monitoring of human dimensions of conservation interventions at the community level to shape adaptive management.
Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing is a major contributor to global overfishing, threatening food security, maritime livelihoods, and fisheries sustainability. An emerging narrative in the literature posits that IUU fishing is associated with additional organized criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, slavery, and arms smuggling. We explored this narrative through a systematic literature review to identify the empirical evidence of the association between illegal fisheries activities and organized crimes. Here we show that there is minimal evidence of organized crimes being linked to IUU fishing. Due to the covert nature of both organized crime and IUU fishing, we supplemented the literature review with analysis of media reports on illegal fishing from 2015 to 2019. We reviewed more than 330 individual media reports from 21 countries. From this database, < 2% reported crimes associated with illegal fishing. The predominantly associated crime mentioned were violations of worker's rights, forced labor and/or modern slavery. We resolve the contradiction between the common narrative that fisheries and other crimes are linked by presenting three distinct business models for maritime criminal activities. These models explain why certain crimes such as forced labor are associated with illegal fishing, while other crimes such as trafficking or smuggling are less likely to be linked to fishing activities. By disentangling these crimes from one another we can better focus on solutions to reduce illegal behavior on the sea, protect those vulnerable to fisheries exploitation, and enhance livelihoods and social well-being.
We report archaeological findings from a significant new cave site on Alor Island, Indonesia, with an in situ basal date of 40,208–38,454 cal BP. Twenty thousand years older than the earliest Pleistocene site previously known from this island, Makpan retains dense midden deposits of marine shell, fish bone, urchin and crab remains, but few terrestrial species; demonstrating that protein requirements over this time were met almost exclusively from the sea. The dates for initial occupation at Makpan indicate that once Homo sapiens moved into southern Wallacea, settlement of the larger islands in the archipelago occurred rapidly. However, the Makpan sequence also suggests that the use of the cave following initial human arrival was sporadic prior to the terminal Pleistocene about 14,000 years ago, when occupation became intensive, culminating in the formation of a midden. Like the coastal sites on the larger neighbouring island of Timor, the Makpan assemblage shows that maritime technology in the Pleistocene was highly developed in this region. The Makpan assemblage also contains a range of distinctive personal ornaments made on Nautilus shell, which are shared with sites located on Timor and Kisar supporting connectivity between islands from at least the terminal Pleistocene. Makpan’s early inhabitants responded to sea-level change by altering the way they used both the site and local resources. Marine food exploitation shows an initial emphasis on sea-urchins, followed by a subsistence switch to molluscs, barnacles, and fish in the dense middle part of the sequence, with crabs well represented in the later occupation. This new record provides further insights into early modern human movements and patterns of occupation between the islands of eastern Nusa Tenggara from ca. 40 ka.
There is a growing emphasis on formally recognizing the connection to the marine environment of Indigenous peoples and the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) these strong connections cultivate. The potential for TEK to significantly enrich the scientific comprehension of the marine environment, whilst also celebrating the rich bio-cultural knowledge in its own right, is indisputable. Here, we present a scientifically robust and culturally appropriate participatory mapping methodology for the marine environment which can effectively achieve genuine cross-cultural ecological knowledge transfer between scientists and Indigenous Peoples. Through a case study working with the Anindilyakwa people of the Groote Eylandt Archipelago, we mapped the TEK of benthic habitats off Australia’s poorly surveyed northern coast. Representatives from 14 Anindilyakwa clan groups participated in the marine mapping (n = 53), resulting in 22 individual maps. Eleven broad-scale habitat classifications, predominately in the intertidal and nearshore marine environment, were described in both Anindilyakwa and English. The information gathered was then used to develop benthic habitat maps covering a combined area of ∼1800 km2 and was assessed for accuracy against in situ observations. We found that despite the difficulties in working across two different world views, through the application of this carefully refined methodology, scientists can effectively document the rich TEK of the marine environment in a manner suitable for conservation and management planning while also supporting the prioritization of Indigenous values within the decision-making process.
The human footprint on earth is now so great that we must become environmental stewards. To encourage stewardship and achieve better conservation outcomes, research is needed to connect practice with sound theory, and to empirically measure stewardship so we can identify its predictors and motivators.
In this study, we use mixed methods to develop a new quantitative indicator for local environmental stewardship in a coastal context. We interviewed 111 people in eastern Australia about their knowledge and use of the coast and extracted information on seven generalised stewardship actions. We combined these into a single indicator which allowed us to evaluate and compare stewardship levels between participants and develop quantitative models.
We found that stewardship was predicted by four traits: attraction to marine wildlife, self-identifying as local, size of local social network, and norms regarding informal enforcement. High-stewardship individuals exhibited eco-centric and anthropocentric worldviews and were motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. We combined these with stewardship actions in a refined model which highlights the importance of people, policy and place in environmental stewardship.
We believe this is the first study to quantify stewardship behaviour and its motivating factors in a broad social-ecological context spanning both terrestrial and marine realms. Our research allows stewardship to be measured, modelled and analysed via a transferable indicator. This enables a deeper understanding of local environmental stewardship and the factors that predict and motivate it and allows us to propose practical strategies to engage people to improve stewardship and conservation outcomes.
Models of social-ecological systems (SES) are acknowledged as an important tool to understand human-nature relations. However, many SES models fail to integrate adequate information from both the human and ecological subsystems. With an example model of a future Offshore Wind Farm development and its effects on both the ecosystem and local human population, we illustrate a method facilitating a “balanced” SES model, in terms of including information from both subsystems. We use qualitative mathematical modeling, which allows to quickly analyze the structure and dynamics of a system without including quantitative data, and therefore to compare alternative system structures based on different understandings of how the system works. By including similar number of system variables in the two subsystems, we balanced the complexity between them. Our analyses show that this complexity is important in order to predict indirect and sometimes counterintuitive effects. We also highlight some conceptually important questions concerning social compensations during developmental projects in general, and wind farms in particular. Our results suggest that the more project holders get involved in various manner in the local socio-ecological system, the more society will benefit as a whole. Increased involvement through e.g. new projects or job-opportunities around the windfarm has the capacity to offset the negative effects of the windfarm on the local community. These benefits are enhanced when there is an overall acceptance and appropriation of the project. We suggest this method as a tool to support the decision-making process and to facilitate discussions between stakeholders, especially among local communities.