Dominant discourses, among fishers and middlemen, of the factors affecting coral reef fish distributions in Solomon Islands

Thomas Brewer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Understanding resource stakeholders' perceptions of resource condition and management is vital to the formulation of efficacious management policy to sustain natural systems because agreement among stakeholders is likely to result in more effective outcomes. Understanding perceptions is particularly important in the context of coral reefs because threats are often diverse and management options are numerous, and therefore perceptions are likely to be diverse. This study identified the dominant discourses of reef fish decline, and increase, among 119 fishers and fish traders (herein middlemen) in Solomon Islands, and compared these discourses to current scientific knowledge. Discourses were then explored for dominant themes that might improve understanding of resource user perceptions. The findings suggest that certain fisher and middlemen discourses align with scientific understanding of the causal links between human activity and fish stock declines, and that many of the elicited management strategies are aligned with current scientific recommendations. A theme that emerged across the fisher and middlemen discourses of fish decline was a dichotomy in perception between fishing for economic affluence and fishing for subsistence and economic survival. A theme that emerged across discourses of fish increase was a dichotomy between support for command-and-control approaches and support for community-based approaches to management. Differences between some fisher and middlemen discourses were explained by the location in which interviews were conducted suggesting consensual perceptions achieved through local knowledge networks. Similarity between scientific understanding and local perceptions suggests that local resource users are aware of, and might support, fishery management strategies based on scientific evidence. Such strategies must consider factors such as location because resource user perceptions differ between locations and because many threats to the fishery and preferred management strategies are likely to be context specific.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)245-253
    Number of pages9
    JournalMarine Policy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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