Small-scale fisheries and their governance are intrinsically connected to natural, social and political processes that occur outside the domain of a ‘fisheries system’. This connection is arguably nowhere better seen than in the case of transboundary fishing, where local, regional, national and international interests and identity are deeply interconnected and play a crucial role in influencing the wellbeing of small-scale fishers and their fishing strategies. To further understand challenges facing small-scale fisheries (SSF), we must therefore explore not only the internal functioning of a fisheries governance system, but also explore cross-sector and cross-scale linkages, connecting small-scale fisheries to a larger political economy.
Disruption of the livelihoods of small-scale fishers and environmental degradation are often observed in cases of disputed sea boundaries as well as in cases of internationalization of fishing fleets. While many scholars have studied the subject of transboundary fisheries (e.g. with aspects involving stock dynamics, political economy, and UNCLOS), there has been little research that explicitly explores implications for small-scale fishers.
This cluster therefore takes a comprehensive and critical look at how small-scale fishers are implicated in dynamics of fishing across and disputes over international maritime boundaries and transboundary fishing spaces. For more information on participation in this cluster please scroll down to “How to contribute” section.
First, we aim to document and synthesize a research agenda on small-scale fisheries implicated in transboundary settings based on a broad-based search of on-the-ground issues and needs. For this, we are organizing a special session called “Transboundary challenges for small-scale fisheries: Exploring a research agenda” at the People and the Sea conference organized by Center for Maritime Research (MARE) of the University of Amsterdam in June, 2015. This panel aims to explore a research agenda for understanding how maritime transboundary issues intersect with the concerns of small-scale fisheries. Five short presentations drawn from previous experiences on the topic will be presented. The session will then proceed with small-group discussions that actively engage the audience in shaping the research agenda. Two main questions to guide the discussions will be: (1) What are the major gaps in knowledge regarding the impact of transboundary issues on SSF?; (2) What are crucial questions for a meaningful research agenda on transboundary challenges for SSF?
The research agenda identified in this panel leads to a more comprehensive knowledge stocktaking effort that involves a brief online survey among TBTI network members around the world. Based on the gathered insights and experiences, we are interested in producing a concrete and policy-relevant synthesis of various perspectives on transboundary challenges for SSF based on a wide range of cases and experiences.
Secondly, building upon the research gaps and insights identified in the preceding steps, the cluster aims to conduct an in-depth comparative study to further examine the key impacts of transboundary issues on SSF and the related responses and agency of small-scale fishers. We expect that a focused comparative study would help improve our understanding of how maritime transboundary issues intersect with the concerns of small-scale fisheries by generating “thick” descriptions as well as more generalizable insights. The exact format of this segment of the cluster activity (e.g. case study or comparative analysis) as well as the specific research questions will become more clearly defined after the MARE 2015 conference.
Potential research themes and specific questions may include:
Implications of transboundary fishing for SSF
1. How and to what extent are coastal small-scale fisheries affected by the encroachments of foreign fishing fleets?
2. What strategies are employed by small-scale fishers to respond to the impacts of foreign fishing fleets?
3. What are the potential environmental impacts of fishing in transboundary areas?
Maritime disputes, geopolitics and SSF
1.How are SSF implicated by marine boundary disputes and how do they respond?
2. How does the process of state territorialization affect small-scale fishers’ operations?
3. How, and to what effect, are SSF capable in engaging in the (geo)politics of transboundary fishing practices?
Inclusive governance of transboundary fishing
1. What are the role and impacts of International law (e.g. UNCLOS), international fishery cooperation agreements and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations on the resources, economies and wellbeing of SSF?
2. What are the governability challenges of transboundary fishing practices?
1. Interactive panel on transboundary fishing at the MARE conference 2015
2. Paper and policy brief on transboundary research agenda and broad-based collection of experiences based on the panel discussion and survey input from TBTI network members
3. Paper describing an in-depth (case-based or comparative) study on transboundary fishing issues (to be further determined based on the research agenda)
4. Building of a network of scholars and civil society members engaged in small-scale fisher responses to international fishing fleets and concerned with the safety and the wellbeing of small-scale fishers in light of larger-scale maritime geopolitical struggles.
|Timeline / Work plan||
June 2015: Interactive panel on “Transboundary Challenges for Small-Scale Fisheries: Exploring a research agenda”
January 2016: Manuscript synthesizing small-scale fisheries research agenda on transboundary challenges ready for submission
August 2016: Manuscript detailing in-depth (case-based or comparative) study on transboundary fishing politics ready for submission
|How to contribute||
1. Join us in the formulation of a research agenda, either by participating in the special panel at the MARE conference 2015 or by providing digital inputs in a draft compilation to be circulated after the conference.
2. Contribute to the comprehensive stocktaking effort through a brief online survey among TBTI network members around the world, by sharing your knowledge of and experiences with transboundary challenges for SSF.
3. Join our network of scholars and civil society members engaged in small-scale fisher responses to international fishing fleets and concerned with the wellbeing of small-scale fishers in light of larger-scale maritime geopolitical developments.
Joeri Scholtens, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Johny Stephen, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Andrew Song, McGill University, Canada
Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands