The South Pacific region represents a unique context in which local communities and their political representatives are increasingly committed to integrated management of marine resources and spaces after a predicted dissolution of related community-based activities in the 1970s. This holds especially true for fisheries, the main field of activity in this oceanscape and a critical component of local livelihoods, national and regional economies, and global fish supplies. Fisheries remain one of the most important concerns on the national and regional policy agendas in the Pacific.
Recent studies have started to take into account the multi-faceted aspects of Pacific fisheries by articulating ecological and economic perspectives. Our project aims at broadening this endeavour by re-embedding coastal and oceanic fisheries in their wider context and by exploring the large web of socio-cultural, geopolitical and policy connections within which fishing practices occur.
For this, we will conduct an interdisciplinary and multi-level analysis across diverse scales and dimensions of fisheries, fisheries management and marine governance in the South Pacific region, including local perceptions and practices, global changes and drivers, and national and regional management frameworks and strategies. This analysis will focus on three study areas: New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji where fieldwork periods will be conducted.
Three thematic areas will be at the core of the project’s cross-sectional investigations:
1) An environmental anthropology assessment of social values of places and resources in connection with offshore and inshore fisheries;
2) A socio-political ecology perspective on interwoven fisheries and conservation issues within marine protected areas;
3) A policy analysis of the inclusion of fisheries in marine spatial planning.
The project outcomes will be five-fold:
1) The production of policy briefs to be disseminated to regional stakeholders on these three thematic areas, with a spot-light on the neglected ‘sea of connections’ in which fisheries are embedded.
2) The production of knowledge exchange pathways between local marine resource users, local students and other stakeholders of South Pacific fisheries via, for instance, local perceptions of fishing activities in a broader context of natural resource uses and values, conservation initiatives and issues, and conflicts related to boundaries.
3) The contribution to the advancement of cross-cutting knowledge in the multi-faceted field of fisheries management and marine governance.
4) The participation in the endeavour to build new forms of integrative governance of the sea including all stakeholders, and in which both Pacific countries and territories and the European Union are closely working together.
5) The strengthening of the existing working ties between the French and German partners, to complement respective national research landscapes.
For a quick overview, please also download our SOCPacific Project Flyer!