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Exploring how fishermen respond to the challenges facing the fishing industry : a study of diversification and multiple-job holding in the English Channel fishery

  • Morgan, Richard
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2013
OpenGrey Repository


Fishermen in the UK face a range of administrative, socioeconomic and environmental challenges that affect the financial performance, and ultimate viability of their businesses. These challenges are particularly salient within the ‘inshore sector’; those vessels of less than ten metres in length which account for over-three quarters of the domestic fleet. While diversification of fishing activity is a well-established response to such challenges, the opportunity to exploit alternative fishing grounds and stocks is increasingly constrained by management controls. An alternative response is to develop strategies that are not subject to restrictions on fishing effort and output. These strategies include diversifying into activities that maintain a link with fishing (i.e. fisheries diversification), and seeking complementary employment outside of the fishing industry (i.e. multiple-job holding). Despite the potential contribution of such strategies to the sustainability of individual fishing businesses and fishing communities, this remains an area that has received limited academic attention to date. This thesis seeks to make an original contribution to knowledge by examining how fishermen in the English Channel respond to challenges upon financial performance; and exploring the practices, motivations and constraints of engaging in fisheries diversification and multiple-job holding. The research design adopted in this study comprises a mixed method approach formed of three distinct phases: an inventory of existing fisheries diversification activities; a survey of fishermen and industry stakeholders; and a qualitative phase of research with fishermen. The results of the inventory reveal that fisheries diversification is historically well established among fishermen in the Channel and is currently practised in a range of forms. The type of diversification practised is found to be subject to a range of factors, including geographical location; market demand; and the characteristics of individual fishermen. Additionally, a number of key constraints were identified that may deter fishermen from adopting this strategy. The relative importance of these constraints was examined in a survey of fisherman and non-fishing stakeholders using the Analytic Hierarchy Process. The results revealed that respondents attributed similar levels of importance to administrative, economic and social constraints, and lack of opportunities; but considered lack of information to be relatively unimportant. Through the analysis of qualitative data, a conceptual framework is developed to understand the main challenges faced by Channel fishermen and the strategies they adopt in response. The framework demonstrates that the challenges faced by fishermen, the impact upon their businesses and the types of response developed are shaped by the interaction of three environmental ‘contexts’. These relate to attributes of the individual fisherman; the characteristics of their fishing business; and the external environment within which they operate. The model indicates that the strategies adopted in response to challenges upon financial performance follow a hierarchical structure: fishermen are most likely to respond by adapting their fishing practices, prior to considering a strategy of fisheries diversification. In contrast, multiple-job holding is not widely practised nor regarded by fisherman as a viable response strategy. To this end, a recommendation is made to support fishermen in both improving the profitability of their fishing businesses, and developing complementary sources of income where viable. / EThOS - Electronic Theses Online Service / GB / United Kingdom

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