Is rebuilding collapsed fisheries a wicked problem ?:lessons from a fish chain analysis of northern gulf cod fisheries

Khan, Ahmed (2012) Is rebuilding collapsed fisheries a wicked problem ?:lessons from a fish chain analysis of northern gulf cod fisheries. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

As with many collapsed fisheries worldwide, the rebuilding of Newfoundland's Northern Gulf cod fishery has been a huge challenge to coastal communities, resource users, scientists, and policy makers. Almost twenty years after a moratorium was declared in the early 1990s, the cod stocks are below conservation limit reference points; only small quotas are available for commercial and recreational fisheries, and a strong possibility exists that the stocks will be listed as endangered. Not only have these and other regional Atlantic cod stocks been slow to rebuild, the cod fishing industry also faces challenges along the production chain, from harvesting to processing, and marketing. While the fishing industry has been restructured from reliance on groundfisheries towards an emphasis on shellfisheries, challenges persist and fishing dependent communities in regions such as the Great Northern Peninsula are struggling to survive. -- A review of global experience with rebuilding collapsed fisheries demonstrate that rebuilding is a 'wicked' problem; meaning that the challenges go beyond scientific and technical solutions, to socioeconomic and sociopolitical concerns. Rebuilding differs from recovery in that it perceives fisheries as coupled social-ecological entities connected to larger societies and the global economy. Rebuilding also takes into account both current and future generations and related equity issues including who pays for the costs of rebuilding and who benefits in the long term. The imperatives for rebuilding fisheries are multidimensional and include food security, livelihoods, revenue, cultural heritage, and ecosystem services. Using a case study of Newfoundland's Northern Gulf cod fisheries, the thesis examines the reasons why rebuilding collapsed fisheries is a wicked problem, and explores governance options for dealing with such multifaceted problems. It employs a 'fish chain' approach (that entails three production stages - the pre-harvest, harvest, and post-harvest stages) in order to generate insights into why the stocks collapsed in the early 1990s, identify reasons for the stalled rebuilding, as well as seek opportunities for collaborative rebuilding efforts. The analysis relies on existing statistical data, peer-reviewed literature, taskforce and policy documents, and findings from key informant interviews conducted along the fish chain for the pre-and post-collapse era. -- The case study findings suggest that ecosystem changes, fishing patterns, transitional livelihood options, changing global seafood markets, consumer preferences for certified seafood, power relations, and policy instruments at different stages in the fish chain have contributed to stall rebuilding. These factors illustrate how and why rebuilding collapsed stocks is a wicked problem. Findings along the fish chain also indicate that rebuilding could be facilitated using multispecies and ecosystem-based approaches that pay attention to by-catch and discards; incorporating effective gear use policies, stewardship incentives, integrated livelihood programs, seafood value-addition, and bridging scale-mismatches between ecosystems, fishing activities, and institutions. Addressing distributional and intergenerational equity concerns, community capacity building, along with changes in power relationships between stakeholders are central to successful rebuilding in the longer term. Related to this, the analysis suggests that 'clumsy' governance options that bring together insights from diverse perspectives from multiple stakeholders could play a key role in creating more institutional spaces towards rebuilding. Some of these clumsy options include stronger support for bottom-up initiatives that respond to regional economic development needs; the development of effective co-governance arrangements with stakeholder and community groups; marketing initiatives that take advantage of local, regional and global consumer choices; and meeting local food security needs and stewardship concerns. Finally, institutional partnerships across different levels of government, in addition to industry and civil society inputs, are critical to rebuilding collapsed groundfisheries in Newfoundland and could provide lessons for efforts to rebuild fisheries worldwide.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6136
Item ID: 6136
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: 2012
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Atlantic cod fisheries--Newfoundland and Labrador--Great Northern Peninsula--Management; Fishes--Conservation--Newfoundland and Labrador--Great Northern Peninsula; Fish trade--Newfoundland and Labrador--Great Northern Peninsula;

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