and Use of Seafood in the Context of the Community: A Case Study of
the Main Hawaiian Islands
reports (PDF): FY
of marine resources from point of capture to point of consumption (or
point of release back into the marine environment), is generally understood
in rudimentary terms, and primarily for commercial fisheries only. Yet
the economic, social, cultural, and political implications of commercial
and non-commercial distribution of seafood products are at the heart
of fisheries management. Well-developed quantitative and qualitative
description and analysis of the commercial and non-commercial transfer
or "flow" of seafood from hook to plate bears potential for enhancing
understanding of the motivations and benefits associated with marine
fisheries, and the implications of resource management decisions that
could in some manner alter those opportunities.
Further, insofar as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation
Act (MSFMCA) defines "fishing communities" in large part in terms of
social and economic activity associated with the harvest, processing
and distribution of seafood, analysis of the commercial and non-commercial
distribution of seafood may serve as an ideal indicator of the existence
and characteristics of such places or situations. But as resource managers
and agency administrators are aware, the definition of fishing community
as defined by the MSFMCA and National Standard 8 (NS-8) is in certain
ways problematic, in part because it is intrinsically "place-based."
For instance, in settings where fishing-related activities are important
both within and across numerous interrelated places and levels of society,
as is the case in Hawaii, it can be difficult to empirically define
fishing community in distinct spatial terms. Moreover, while it can
be useful to investigate fisheries-relevant aspects of various cities,
towns, and villages, and to assess degree of involvement of residents
in fishing-related activities, these efforts can tend to overemphasize
the relative importance of fishing activities vis-à-vis other more economically
significant activities, while deemphasizing the absolute importance
of marine fisheries to the actual participants.
In this case, we argue that the most pertinent fishing community is
that of a given fishery itself, and/or components thereof. The proposed
work is intended to examine an expanded definition of fishing community
- one which social actors cooperating or interacting to effect the harvest,
distribution, and consumptive use of the resources are considered without
overt regard to place of residence.
This rationale relates directly to the above-mentioned need for understanding
patterns of seafood harvest, distribution, and consumption. We intend
to identify "at-sea" communities or social networks of interacting or
cooperating fishermen, and figuratively (and at times, with their willing
cooperation, literally) trace them back to their respective points of
seafood distribution and places of residence. In this manner it may
be possible to better define, via the commercial and non-commercial
flow of seafood products, not only patterns of motivation and outcome
as regards fishing and seafood distribution, but also patterns of fisheries-specific
social and economic interaction that are critical to any definition
of fishing community. Whether, in fact, such patterns will reveal common
and/or integrated spatial elements in specific locations on land remains
a question for empirical investigation.
Four Oahu-based fleets are being examined in these regards in select
locations on Oahu: (1) the small-boat consumption-oriented fishery,
(2) the small-boat mixed motivation fishery, (3) the small-boat commercial
handline and troll fishery, and (4) the Hawaii-based longline fishery.
Research methods involve: (1) compilation and review existing data and
reports regarding the fisheries in question, (2) conduct of in-depth
discussions with vessel operators, crew, and their extended families;
fish buyers and purveyors; regional fisheries managers; and others highly
knowledgeable of pelagic fisheries in the MHI, and (3) observation of
cases and contexts indicative of the flow of seafood products from point
of harvest to point of consumption per the fisheries, markets, and consuming
populations in question.
The intent of the project is neither exhaustive sampling nor universal
representation of the distribution and use of seafood in Hawaii. Rather,
it is to describe the ways in which the fisheries in question function
in terms of typical processes of harvest, distribution, and consumption,
and to enable explanation of variation in those processes within and
across groups of fishery participants.
In sum, the research strategy will enable a systematic and empirical
tracing out, documentation, and analysis of the behaviors and key attributes
of fishery participants who interact (and potentially cooperate) at
sea, who distribute their products in various ways and places, and who
reside in places that may or may not correlate in spatial terms with
points of vessel mooring, or places of landing, marketing, sharing,
or consumption of seafood.
We believe this project is likely to further understanding of the social
and economic dynamics of marine fisheries in Hawaii while providing
insight into efforts to define and identify fishing communities here
and elsewhere. As such, the project has the potential to improve the
accuracy and potential benefits of environmental, regulatory, and social
impact assessments undertaken in Hawaii, in other island areas of the
Western Pacific, and in other regions of the U.S.
Funding for this project to be awarded in mid-2006.