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The need for social science in fisheries management and research
Keynote by Dr. Marloes Kraan, IMARES Wageningen University, the Netherlands
The keynote was built up around two questions:
1. ‘why is (or should) social science be a crucial part of fisheries management and research?’ and
2. ‘how can it be more integrated with other disciplines?’
It was argued that the truism ‘fisheries management is about managing people’ in fact asks for social science [anthropology, sociology, human geography, ...] to be part of the research package. Although influencing human behaviour is the key focus of management action, the core of the science is done by biologists and economists. This has impacted negatively on the understanding of human behaviour (of fishermen in this case) in fisheries science and management. The keynote provided the research areas of interest of social scientists and explained some of the key aspects of social science research. It touched upon the fact that social science still plays a relatively marginal role, but pointed out that things seem to be changing.
Kraan shared her own experience of working as a social scientist from within a biological / ecological research institute and argued how that made it easier for her to contribute to applied research as a social scientist. By doing so she works on integrating social science methods and approaches in natural science or transdisciplinary research projects. There are a number of advantages to work together as a social scientist with other disciplines in the marine field, and the cooperation can take different forms; offering social science methods for natural scientists, interdisciplinary research but also social science research alongside the work of the other disciplines on certain topics.
As an example of the latter she presented a part of the GAP2 case study of the Netherlands on discards, within which she was able to study, together with Dr. Marieke Verweij (Pro Sea), the perceptions of fishermen and policy makers about discards. This work has been instrumental research in the national context showing the gap between industry and policy, which potentially undermines current practices of cooperation in the implementation of the landing obligation.