Saving Fish? Saving Fisherfolk? Reflections on Designing Governance Policies for Fisheries
Anastasia Telesetsky and Rebecca Bratspies
In the field of fisheries regulation, there are few clearly delineated rules regarding how to draft effective policies and laws that will protect the lives of fish as well as the long-term livelihoods of fisherfolk, including all of those men and women who either directly participate in marine or freshwater fishing or indirectly benefit from fishing by providing fishing-related goods and services. This makes the field a challenging one for lawyers since we tend to like clear rules. Sustainable fishery management cannot follow ironclad rules because fisheries science requires adaptive management.
Fish move. They sometimes do not reproduce on schedule or according to human plans. They ignore our efforts to create open and closed seasons. Just as fish refuse to cooperate with our rules and regulations, environmental conditions are also changing as the ocean warms and acidifies or freshwater systems undergo eutrophication. We are faced with constantly evolving fishery research, which challenges scientific findings that have become accepted as immutable facts by the law.