Friday 1. February 2013

Local Knowledge of Change in Fish Species

On Friday February 1, Clasina Jansen, will present her master's thesis, in Coastal and Marine Management, titled Local knowledge and perceptions of change in spatial and abundance trends of fish species in the Westfjords of Iceland between 1992 and 2012. The presentation will be in English, it is open to the public and begins at 13:30 in room 1-2 at the University Centre. Note that Clasina will be presenting on site.

The thesis advisors are Jacob Matthew Cheatham Kasper, a specialist at the Marine Research Institute of Iceland and Embla Eir Oddsdóttir, specialist at the Stefansson Institute and Director of the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network. The external reader for the thesis is Dr. Bradley W. Barr, visiting faculty at the University Centre.

Large shifts in fish stock distribution and abundance are increasingly reported worldwide. An understanding of the variability in fish stock regime allows socio-economic structures in the fisheries industry to adapt to these changes. This thesis investigates local perceived changes in spatial and abundance trends of fish species over the study period 1992-2012, and the sensitivity and adaptability of the fisheries sector of the Westfjords of Iceland concerning these changes. Twenty-two qualitative, semi-directive interviews were completed with individuals working in the Westfjords' fishing industry. Data of the spring annual groundfish survey of the Icelandic Marine Research Institute was used to compare perceived changes of the five most frequently cited species to spatial and abundance trends obtained from the scientific data. The investigation indicates that interviewed individuals working in the fishing industry possess specific local knowledge regarding fish species occurrence in the Westfjords. Three out of eight perceived changes regarding distribution and abundance of cod, haddock, catfish, monkfish and mackerel corresponded to the findings of the scientific data. Differences between the perceptions and scientific findings can be explained by the research design and by differences in time- and geographical scale between the studies. Changes in national fishery regulations and local social conditions are perceived to be of a bigger threat to the fishing industry than changes in the environment. Possible adaptation strategies include an increased focus to niche products, investment in knowledge and gear in order to adapt to potential new commercial species and a shift to different fishing grounds. This study shows that each knowledge type has its strengths, but not at the same temporal and spatial scales. Combining multiple information sources for monitoring of marine resources can lead to collaborative forms of fish stock management, and improves decision quality, communication and acceptance.

Clasina Jansen.
Clasina Jansen.