Better together: Research collaboration in OFI Module I

by María Andrée López Gómez

The wide network of researchers at the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) offers the opportunity to create linkages across many disciplines and in that way innovate how we study the ocean and how we seek for solutions together.

The wide network of researchers at the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) offers the opportunity to create linkages across many disciplines and in that way innovate how we study the ocean and how we seek for solutions together. As a postdoctoral fellow in OFI Module I-2, I investigate which factors and dynamics play a role in the recruitment, training and retention (RTR) of people into small-scale fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). Even though this sub-module builds on previous research on recruitment and labour issues in NL, the project is benefitting of partnerships within and outside OFI to expand its research framework.

 

To approach the analysis of RTR in small-scale fisheries, investigators from Module I-2 parted by collaborating with Jahn Petter Johnsen and Signe Annie Sønvisen from The Norwegian College of Fisheries Science at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Together, we are adapting a Norwegian RTR survey to the Newfoundland and Labrador context. The survey in Norway helped identify different typologies of fish harvesters by capturing patterns in attitudes and motivations on health, technology, market and coastal vs. industrial fishing.

 

Findings from the Norwegian study demonstrated that fish harvesters in Norway are not a homogenous group, but act and adapt differently to policy changes. These findings have important implications for policy by shedding light on the different groups involved in fisheries work and their specific needs. We will launch the NL online survey in the fall and we are looking forward to our results and and their dissemination to inform fisheries-related policies.

 

Labour Market and Health 

In addition to our collaborations abroad, sub-module I-2 also has collaborations with other Module investigators based at Memorial University. Assistant Professor Desai Shan from OFI Modules I and N (Safe Navigation and Environmental Protection) and I decided to unite forces to obtain administrative and secondary data to understand labour market trends in coastal communities in NL. With access to longitudinal data, some not collected necessarily for research purposes, we will be able to identify trends in labour and occupational pluralism with an occupational health perspective.

 

Access, Recruitment and Retention 

Recruitment in the fisheries is linked to local and global policies that impact access to resources and to markets. In this sense, it was inevitable for Module I-1 (Access to Resources and Market) and Module I-2 investigators investigators to work together and try to disentangle the relationships between access (taken as the ability to derive benefits from things) and recruitment and retention in fisheries work.

 

Employment in the Aquaculture Industry

A final collaboration leveraged current research to obtain additional funding and explore employment in aquaculture. Christine Knott, postdoctoral fellow with Module N (Social Licence and Planning in Coastal Communities) and I worked together this winter on a proposal to apply for the Harris Centre Burin Peninsula Thriving Regions Partnership Process and we were successful in securing funding for the project.

 

The Thriving Regions Partnership Process aims to build meaningful research partnerships that help promote thriving social and economic regions. The Burin Peninsula suffers from population decline and decreased employment opportunities, thus attraction and retention of workers is one of the main issues that concerns communities in this area. This projects aims to engage and work with communities on the Burin Peninsula who are hoping to benefit both in the short and long term from the development of the aquaculture industry in the region.

 

We want to understand and address issues of recruitment and retention of the aquaculture workforce and opportunities for sustainable aquaculture employment with a focus on women, elders and migrant workers to link issues of employment equity with filling labour shortage gaps. We will be working with community members on how to best cater their needs by engaging in participatory research and designing a deliverable that we hope continues after our roles as researchers in the region end.  

Written by María Andrée López Gómez

María Andrée López Gómez is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sociology Department at Memorial University, funded by the Ocean Frontier Institute. She works in sub-module I-2 investigating issues of recruitment, training and retention of people into small-scale fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador. As an Occupational Health Epidemiologist, María has worked doing research on labour market policies and organizational policies and how they impact workers’ health and well-being outcomes.  

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