Access to Resources & Markets: Research in OFI Module I-1

by Courtenay E. Parlee

The preliminary results from Phase 1 of this research suggest that short- and long-term changes influencing access to resources and markets are driven by both ecological and social factors.

[...] These transitions bring up several important questions. For example, who is benefiting and not benefiting from the way in which access and benefits from fisheries and markets are distributed in the province? In what ways are benefits gained and maintained? 

As an OFI Module I-1 postdoctoral fellow, I am working with a multidisciplinary team of researchers to examine the short- and long-term changes in fisheries resources and market access in Newfoundland to understand how they impact various stakeholders and rightsholders in the industry, and coastal communities. The purpose of this research is to inform governance responses that lead to a sustainable future. The key questions for this research focus on factors that affect the ability of people to benefit from fisheries resources: 

 

  1. What are the major challenges and opportunities in securing access to fishing resources, including things like quota, licenses, technology, capital, labour, social identity, social relations, and authority? 

  2. What are the major challenges and opportunities in securing access to buyers and market benefits? 

Fogo Island, NL, Canada. May, 2019. ©Courtenay E. Parlee

To explore these research questions, the project is divided into two phases. The first phase is nearly complete and has involved a review of published and gray literature, and field research based on in depth key informant interviews conducted between May and November of 2019 throughout three regions in Newfoundland – Gander-New-Wes-Valley Region, the Corner Brook-Rocky Harbour Region, and the Avalon Peninsula Region. In total, 24 key informants were interviewed involving: provincial government employees in Newfoundland; federal government employees; Indigenous leaders; inshore and offshore fishery organization representatives; professional fish harvesters; staff of the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board, social enterprise organizations, buyers, and processors. The results from Phase 1 of this research will inform Phase 2 which will consist of more targeted research projects such as case studies.

Twillingate, NL, Canada. May, 2019. ©Courtenay E. Parlee

The preliminary results from Phase 1 of this research suggest that short- and long-term changes influencing access to resources and markets are driven by both ecological and social factors. Some of the major ecological factors discussed by research participants, and news media outlets include: climate change, declining crab and shrimp quotas, signs of redfish and cod stock recovery, hypothesized shifts in ecological productivity and/or geographic range of lobster and capelin, increased population and predation of seals, and new and increased access to the sea cucumber fishery and related markets. Some of the major social factors include the federal Fisheries Act (Bill C-68), the federal New Emerging Fisheries Policy, Indigenous Reconciliation, the provincial Fish Inspection Act, the Owner-Operator and Fleet Separation Policies, Professionalization, Buddy-Up, Enterprise Combining, and the US-China trade war. Most recently, the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, along with the rest of the world, has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming the fishing industry in new and unanticipated ways. 

These transitions bring up several important questions. For example, who is benefiting and not benefiting from the way in which access and benefits from fisheries and markets are distributed in the province? In what ways are benefits gained and maintained? Through which social, institutional and knowledge mechanisms? Are stakeholders satisfied with their involvement in the governance and management of fisheries in responding to social-ecological changes? What options exist for stakeholders and rightsholders to respond to changes in ways that lead to a sustainable future? What is the relevance of these transitions at an international scale? How do these transitions impact Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.b to “provide access of small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”? 

 

As I continue to analyse data and produce results, I have had the opportunity to discuss these questions as a panel participant on two roundtables.  The first took place on June 8th, 2020 and focused on “Secured access for small-scale fisheries: reality or dream”? (available on Youtube), and the second took place on June 25, 2020 and focused on Social Science & Humanities Research Across the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI). I have also had individual conversations with people in the fishing industry about how to address concerns arising from social-ecological transformations within the fishing industry. Through this dialogue it has become evident that a major overarching issue concerns the role of social sciences in the science-policy interface. How can social sciences positively influence government decisions that need to be made in the immediate future? In addition, how can we ensure that social policy is developed based on social science evidence? It is these questions which continue to guide my research, and that we as a team, hope to address through documented analysis that will be disseminated in peer review publications, reports, and presentations.  

I would like to give a shout out to my mother to say thank you for accompanying me on my research trips to take care of my young son. Mom, I could not do any of this without you!

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Written by Courtenay E. Parlee

Courtenay E. Parlee is an OFI postdoctoral fellow at the Grenfell Campus Environmental Policy Institute, and an Honourary Research Associate at the University of New Brunswick. She works in Sub-module I-1 investigating access to resources and markets in Newfoundland in the context of social-ecological change and is collaborating with members of Sub-module I-2 which focuses on Recruitment, Training and Retention in the fisheries. As an interdisciplinary social scientist, Courtenay has researched fisheries policy and law, and how they impact the human dimensions of sustainable resource management.

© 2019 by OFI Governance