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07.07.2016 | Ausgabe 4/2016

Environmental Management 4/2016

Crossing Science–Policy–Societal Boundaries to Reduce Scientific and Institutional Uncertainty in Small-Scale Fisheries

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Management > Ausgabe 4/2016
Autoren:
Abigail M. Sutton, Murray A. Rudd

Abstract

The governance of small-scale fisheries (SSF) is challenging due to the uncertainty, complexity, and interconnectedness of social, political, ecological, and economical processes. Conventional SSF management has focused on a centralized and top-down approach. A major criticism of conventional management is the over-reliance on ‘expert science’ to guide decision-making and poor consideration of fishers’ contextually rich knowledge. That is thought to exacerbate the already low governance potential of SSF. Integrating scientific knowledge with fishers’ knowledge is increasingly popular and is often assumed to help reduce levels of biophysical and institutional uncertainties. Many projects aimed at encouraging knowledge integration have, however, been unsuccessful. Our objective in this research was to assess factors that influence knowledge integration and the uptake of integrated knowledge into policy-making. We report results from 54 semi-structured interviews with SSF researchers and practitioners from around the globe. Our analysis is framed in terms of scientific credibility, societal legitimacy, and policy saliency, and we discuss cases that have been partially or fully successful in reducing uncertainty via push-and-pull-oriented boundary crossing initiatives. Our findings suggest that two important factors affect the science–policy–societal boundary: a lack of consensus among stakeholders about what constitutes credible knowledge and institutional uncertainty resulting from shifting policies and leadership change. A lack of training for scientific leaders and an apparent ‘shelf-life’ for community organizations highlight the importance of ongoing institutional support for knowledge integration projects. Institutional support may be enhanced through such investments, such as capacity building and specialized platforms for knowledge integration.

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