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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Collaborative fisheries research to build socioeconomic essential fishery information: A test case


Fisheries are integrated social-­‐ecological systems, characterized by dynamic and complex interactions within and between the natural and human environments. California’s 1998 Marine Management Life Act (MLMA) recognizes the role of people in fisheries, and the MLMA Master Plan calls for the inclusion of socioeconomic as well as ecological “essential fishery information” in fishery management plans. However, critical gaps in such information for virtually all fisheries hinder managers’ ability to actively adapt and communities’ ability to plan for the future. This project begins to meet such information needs for the commercial fishery for California halibut, providing an example for other fisheries. We conducted a small collaborative fisheries research (CFR) project that engaged fishery participants, scientists and managers. Our goal was to produce sound social scientific understanding of the human dimensions of the fisheries system that is useful to the fishing, management, and scientific communities. We used an iterative approach, integrating analyses of data from the state’s California Fisheries Information System (CFIS), the literature, and knowledgeable fishery participants, managers and scientists to build understanding about the fishery’s human system and its dynamics. The research focused on the period 2000-­‐2012 to capture recent changes in the fishery and the larger fishery system, with events prior to and since also informing our efforts.

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