Dissertation Abstracts

Living with the Sea Community Fish Stock Management for Conservation and Cohesion: A Comparative Study of Greece and Japan

Author: Vlachopoulou, Eirini Ioanna , socd12054@soc.aegean.gr
Department: Department of Sociology
University: University of the Aegean, Greece
Supervisor: Dr George O. Tsobanoglou
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: artisanal fishing co , fish stock managemen , insularity , comparative methodol
Areas of Research: Environment and Society , Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management , Sociotechnics, Sociological Practice


The importance of sustainable fish stock management through the ecosystem and the participatory approaches is widely supported by contemporary science. The management of fisheries, based on the internal knowledge of the insular artisanal communities, which operate with traditional techniques and tools, is considered key to sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems worldwide.

According to the participatory approach, the insular communities which rely on the targeted fish stock should play an active and central role in the process of regulating and protecting it. Adopting a system of community participation in the decision-making process would result in developing a more holistic and inclusive management scheme with improved outcomes for both conservation and community development, enhancing also the social capital within the community.

In Japan, the local resource users are the principal decision makers and marine resource conservation is an integral part of resource use. Traditional management concepts are used for contemporary fish stock management, forming the satoumi framework. The satoumi are ‘coastal landscapes that have been formed and maintained by prolonged interaction between humans and ecosystems’. The key concept in the satoumi framework is the interaction between human activity and ecosystem management. However, these ecosystems still maintain high productivity and biodiversity, coupled with human intervention. The local authorities, national governments and educational institutions play a significant role in supporting the implementation of the satoumi, by delivering the necessary legislation on fishing rights and resource conservation, as well as scientific knowledge and administrative advice.

By contrast, in Greece, although there is extensive legislation on fisheries management, its enforcement is minimal. The marine habitats have been gradually deteriorating, resulting not only in the loss of a large proportion of fish stocks, but also in the reduction of the livelihoods of the local artisanal fishing communities. As the fishermen have minimal participation in the decision making processes, the management of the marine resources or the enforcement of the legislation, their needs and local knowledge are not being represented in the decision making process. Legislation enforcement and management plans are absent. Furthermore, the stakeholders are not involved in the regulation of the national waters, as the state is highly centralized. Therefore, there is space for the introduction of the ecosystem and participatory approaches, in order to increase employment and income, and to achieve sustainable exploitation of fish stocks.

Following an international comparative methodology, this dissertation explores how different socioeconomic norms, coupled with differences in cultural identities and environmental and geopolitical parameters, and mainly, insularity, may manifest in artisanal fishing communities and alter their approach on fisheries management. The study aims at answering several questions, including:
What motivates the communities to take up action in preserving and managing the fish stocks?
How do these communities then implement their chosen course of action?
What are the socioeconomic, cultural, environmental and geopolitical reasons behind their decisions?
What is and should be the role of the state in community fish stock management plans?

The research is funded by the MEXT Scholarship and partially conducted at the Yokohama National University.

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