Netting the benefits for sustainable fisheries

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: International Development


The development of a 'Fisheries Bill' was announced as part of the Queen's speech in June 2017. A new Fisheries Bill provides a key, 'once in a lifetime' opportunity for the United Kingdom and its devolved administrations to assume greater responsibility for fisheries in their territorial waters and to redesign the policies that underpin this. There are hopes within the industry and in many political circles, that these changes could lead to fisheries being managed more sustainably and equitably in the future, and that it might also lead to the regeneration of local economies in some coastal communities. In particular, the industry hopes that regaining sovereignty over UK waters will mean higher quotas being allocated to them. The total UK quota of each commercial species such as North Sea cod is currently decided each year in Brussels, based on 'relative stability' arrangements. However, these are based on historic fishing patterns that pre-date the Common Fisheries Policy (the late 1970s), and therefore do not match current fish distributions and catch compositions of UK vessels. A further source of perceived injustice for many in the UK fishing industry is how the UK itself allocates components of the overall quota to different fleets around the country. Over 95% of the quota is currently allocated to larger offshore boats because this sector was able to prove 'track record' through logbooks etc. when the Common Fisheries Policy was established in 1983. The inshore, smaller boats, which makes up over 80% of the UK's fishing boats had no legal obligation to report landings or to keep logbooks - and lost out as a result. The many discrepancies in quota allocation have caused tensions between larger and smaller boats. Clearly a dialogue is needed, regarding equitability of quota allocation in the UK. Whatever circumstances arise as a result of Brexit (whether the UK 'wins' high quotas or not), some system will be needed to divide up the total UK share. Changes to the current management system associated with Brexit and the new 'fisheries bill' mean that it is now time for renewed discussion about what the UK wants it's fishing fleet to look like in the future, setting out new criteria for quota allocation based on objective social, economic and environmental criteria. This placement will allow a collaboration between UEA and CEFAS focused on understanding fishermen's views regarding the apportionment of national quota shares, This work will focus on three regions: Norfolk, Suffolk and Devon. This placement's goal is to explore these complex issues through research and engagement with various sub-sectors of the fishing industry. This will help generate insights that will feed into future policy development, a topic that will become ever-more important once the overall geopolitical negotiations have concluded.


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Title A tale of two fishermen 
Description This is a short ethnographic film, made by students in the school of international development at the university of east anglia, as part of a short film course with Postcode films. This was possible as a result of my suggestion & as a result of participating in a community workshop and my own relationship building with stakeholders in the fishing community, with whom I engaged with during my own research as part of my NERC Innovation Placement 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This film has had a positive impact in the sense that it has allowed a short film to be made and has motivated a new collaboration to make a longer film in 2019-2020. Making a film about the fishing community in North Norfolk has been a long term aspiration of fishermen belonging to the North Norfolk Fishermen's Society. They have struggled to find funding and support for this in the past. Engaging with the fishing community in this was will contribute to relationship building and can have a lasting impact for future collaboration. Using film is a useful way of communicating local voices that are often hidden or underrepresented in local, regional or central government policies. 
Description Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are often presented as a 'win-win': good for the environment and good for people without trade-offs where no-one loses out.
Examples of promised expectations included Increased fisheries productivity, increased recreational/tourism revenue, protected or enhanced marine life, community pride, job creation However, many have questioned whether this is really all possible.

In order to for communities to work better together, it is important to understand different perspectives that exist and and expect that there will be tensions and trade-offs that need to addressed.

I found that the Qsort method was a useful way gather a range of views and start to understand the different worldviews and interpretations of value that may exist in a particular community and shape their support for policies (such as Marine Conservation Zones) or their attitudes & behaviour (e.g. how they relate to the marine and coastal environment)

In my particular sample, I found that some members of the community tended to expect that 'benefit flows from protecting the environment - do this and everything takes care of itself'. For some participants, heritage and culture (in this case linked to crab fishing) give the coast a meaning, a sense of purpose and identity - but others regarded this is unimportant. Different views existed in relation to stability and fragility: nature is wild and strong vs nature needs us to help maintain it as it should be. Finally, there were significant variations in people's consideration of local vs global impacts; and how they articulated relationships with the marine environment and personal vs collective wellbeing. There were some significant concerns linked to place protectionism over whether increasing learning & education could lead to environmental destruction and a fear of too many people might take an interest in local coastal biodiversity if it were to be formally recognised and protected.

Through my results using a Qsort methodology, I have been able to challenge the Natural Capital ethos and approach. In particular, I found that contrary to common assumptions, people do not value the protection nature through Marine Conservation Zones for their potential economic benefits; that the values people hold are locally constructed rather than national or global in nature; and that people tend to think of how they value the marine environment in terms of their personal goals rather than for the collective good.
Values shape human behaviour and action
Exploitation Route My findings will be of interest to the Marine Pioneer project which is testing the natural capital approach for Defra as part of the 25 year environment plan.
Through using Qsort I have been able to highlight the complexity and trade offs in social values which relate to the natural environment.
I have also been able to show the potential for this method to be used and how it can make visible intangible questions around values which often hinder the inclusion of such values in decision making in the pace of more tangible quantifiable values.
Sectors Environment

Description Presentation on Using Q-sort methodology to understand plurality in social values & interests around a Marine Conservation Zone in North Norfolk in a session on 'Valuing Nature for Marine & Coastal Decisions' as part of the NERC Valuing Nature Annual Conference 2018
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Description ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Application to the UEA Impact Accelerator Fund Rapid Response Funding - A future for fishing? Voices from a North Norfolk fishing community
Amount £8,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 03/2019
Description Film making on the local fishermen Cromer 
Organisation Postcode Films
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I put some fishermen in touch with Postcode films who were running an ethnographic film course for students at UEA-DEV. The film went online in early 2019.
Collaborator Contribution As a result, a short film was made with local fishermen in the area of our research which we will be able to use as part of our exhibition. It has also led to a further film collaboration in the same area which is currently underway
Impact A short film has been produced and led to a further ongoing film project
Start Year 2018
Description Partnership with the Marine Conservation Society Agents of Change project 
Organisation Marine Conservation Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I participated in meetings all the way through their ongoing project from late 2017 until early 2019 with regular catch ups. I provided advice to them about their work in coastal communities and engaging with fishermen, as well as workshop design and planning with Flora and Fauna International at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. I facilitated four community workshops with them.
Collaborator Contribution I kept in touch with them concerning discussions they were involved in with other local and regional organisations which helped me to keep abreast of development regionally. Through being involved in their community workshops, I identified participants for my research and avoided stakeholder fatigue as well as presented a united and collaborative approach
Impact Community workshops and reports
Start Year 2017
Description Community Workshops in North Norfolk on marine conservation with the Marine Conservation Society Agents of Change project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Three community workshops were held in July 2018 in Norfolk Norfolk. These were organised by the Marine Conservation Society through their Agents of Change project.

I contributed to the facilitation of these three workshops and presented some initial results from my own research at the final, fourth workshop, which was held in October.

The aim of the three initial workshops was to : To uncover the communities visions the future of Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds MCZ and its link with local people; To discuss local issues of concern, potential solutions to these issues and local interest in engaging with these solutions; and To start a conversation on how these solutions can begin to happen locally.

My aim was to learn from the discussions and to identify participants from these workshops for my own research using the Q sort method.

Feeding back initial results from my research at the final workshop helped to bring a different perspective to the discussion and helped to open up discussion about different values held within the community and the recognition of trade-offs.

During this final workshop, fishermen expressed the wish to make a film to show the public who they are, what their values are, and how they relate to the natural environment.
As a result I put two fishermen in touch with DEV students who were making short films as part of a short film course, with Postcode Films. This 3 minute film was published online and was well received by fishermen, who have asked me to support them in developing a longer film. I have been securing funding for this to occur and as a way to deliver further impact from my own work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description North Norfolk Fieldtrip 2018 November 10th - 11th 2018 with BSc Geography Students at UEA 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact The field trip aimed to:
• Welcome first year students to the course, introduce them to some relevant social and environmental issues in Norfolk, and enable them to get to know each other better
• Understand the social and political aspects of marine conservation processes
• Provide understanding and application of the multi-dimensional well-being (MDWB) and multi-dimensional deprivation (MDD) frameworks (applied to marine conservation in Norfolk)
• Learn and practice a small number of research methods
• Give students knowledge (conceptual frameworks) and skills (e.g. methods) which can be used throughout their degree in DEV.
This year (2018) we will have one subject area as a focus for the two days:
Social and political aspects of marine conservation in north Norfolk
Or the human and environmental geography of marine conservation.
We focused on one topic in order to give more time to the practical activities for learning around this topic, more time for expert speakers to be involved, and more time for consolidation and learning through presentations. Overall this approach will deepen learning.
In previous years we have also done fieldwork on the social aspects of multiple deprivation and inequality in Holt, but this year we focus on the marine conservation issues. However you must still observe, take notes and reflect upon aspects of multiple deprivation (See section X - employment, income, health, education, housing, living environment, crime) and in particular inequalities in the area.

This included a short presentation on the 'Agents of Change' project and on the Marine Conservation Society, followed by a role play of a community engagement activity which allowed students to understand how to facilitate workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018