Perspectives of a Cooperative Fisherman
Introductory note: In addressing the questions below, I draw on my experience, limited research, and discussions with both fishermen and scientists. I consider my list of answers to be accurate and representative, but certainly not complete or all-inclusive.
Fishermen choose to participate or not participate in cooperative research and/or management for a number of reasons. Those who choose to do so generally cite one or more of the following reasons:
1. A recognized data need that consistently leads to mismanagement or underestimate of stock abundance;
2. Awareness of a looming problem that could effect their fishery;
3. Financial compensation commensurate with the time and effort demands of the project; and
4. Awareness that the scale of a recognized problem is ill-suited to the existing regulatory regime and could be better resolved at the local level.
Fishermen choose not to participate in cooperative research and management if they
1. generally mistrust the management system or mistrust scientists or managers engaged in a particular project;
2. receive little or no benefit or compensation for the time and/or space needed to participate; and
3. believe the data they generate will not be used.
Scientists choose to participate if they
1. recognize a means of collecting otherwise unavailable or unaffordable data or improving their understanding of ecosystem relationships and
2. recognize that including fishermen in research and management will improve communication, cooperation, and support for management decisions.
Scientists choose not to participate in cooperative management when they
1. consider data generated by fishermen to lack objectivity or rigor;
2. are unable to build relationships with fishermen that could lead to cooperative work;
3. lack funding to engage fishermen in cooperative work; and
4. fear expectations on the part of the involved fishermen regarding outcomes could result in hostility and mistrust.