Sociocultural Institutions in Fisheries Management
Abstract: The success of environmental regulatory regimes is often attributed
to the design and implementation of particular regulatory tools. While sound design and
effective implementation are crucial elements of any successful regulatory action, the
social, cultural and political institutions of those groups targeted by environmental
governance also play an important role. Regulatory regimes ... read morecan only succeed when those
governed by them at the very least comply, and ideally cooperate, with the regime. This
research investigates how institutions, at various levels of scale and formality, work to
determine the degree of compliance and/or cooperation that fisheries management regimes
enjoy. The research question explored by this dissertation is: Do differences in informal
social, cultural, and political institutions affect inshore fishing community cooperation
with centralized, quota-based national fisheries regimes? Using data collected through
in-depth, open-ended interviews with a cross-section of fisheries stakeholders in several
communities in each of three case studies—Norway, New Zealand, and the United States (New
England)—the research yields three major findings. The first of these findings is that
sociocultural institutions play a much larger causal role in determining community
cooperation with fisheries policies than natural resource management scholars and
policymakers often recognize. The second finding is that levels of cooperation impact both
the latitude that fisheries managers enjoy and the effectiveness of the policies they
promote at achieving management goals. The third finding is that the amount of trust
afforded to fisheries managers by fishing communities is influenced by sociocultural
institutions, but trust can also be increased or eroded by policy choices made by fisheries
managers. Applied to present and future challenges in fisheries management, these findings
generate two major policy recommendations. The first recommendation is fisheries managers
should consider pursuing new modes of management that account for community norms and
values and better incorporate stakeholders into decision-making processes. The second
recommendation is that fisheries policymakers should clarify and prioritize the goals of
their policies, clearly articulating the relative values of ecological sustainability,
national economic objectives, and sustainable communities. In short, successful small-scale
fisheries management must balance a focus on fish and their ecosystems with a deeper
consideration of people and their communities.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Diplomacy, History, and Politics.
Advisor: Kelly Gallagher.
Committee: Avery Cohn, and Svein Jentoft.
Keywords: Environmental management, Natural resource management, and Public policy.read less