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Knowledge Co-Production in Fisheries

Policy brief for the Greenland Fisheries Commission about local and scientific observations for improving fisheries in Greenland

Fisheries are of great importance in Greenland but there is uncertainty as to future sustainability and stock dynamics. Fisheries management advice is currently based mainly on catch statistics and researchers' surveys although there is growing international recognition that user knowledge is valuable. The new agreement on the future of fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean gives user knowledge from coastal communities a central role in the future management of fishery resources.

In cooperation with the Greenland Association of Fishermen and Hunters (KNAPK) and Oceans North Greenland, NORDECO has prepared a policy brief for the Greenland Fisheries Commission. In the policy brief we summarize what we know about how user knowledge can be incorporated into fisheries management in Greenland.

For the past ten years, the Greenland government has been testing ways of incorporating user knowledge in the management of fish and other living resources in Disko Bay. Experienced fishermen have been systematically discussing and reporting on the status of several fish species. They have also provided possible explanations for changes in stocks and have proposed specific management measures. The methods tested have provided valuable knowledge on the development of several stocks. Using these tested methods, users have come up with management proposals that both expand and limit fishing activity. In addition to bringing important knowledge into play on the various fish stocks, the inclusion of user knowledge in fisheries management offers better opportunities for:

1) Obtaining knowledge from wider geographical areas;

2) Early detection of stock changes;

3) Establishing user and site-specific knowledge for management plans in specific management areas;

4) Promoting realistic local regulations e.g. of trawling; and

5) Strengthening the use of regulatory tools such as quotas, legal gear, zoning and seasons. Increased incorporation of user knowledge helps to create a meaningful dialogue between users, researchers and managers.

This can lead to fewer conflicts and greater co-ownership in relation to the management decisions that are made. The methods tested are based on recognized international practice, the “multiple evidence-based approach”. Ten years of collecting user knowledge on fishing in Disko Bay has shown that it can significantly contribute to the understanding of fishing and the status of fish stocks. User knowledge has been shown to be able to quickly detect changes. Despite the fact that a process has been underway regarding the use of user knowledge in Disko Bay, there is a lack of systematic support for the inclusion of user knowledge in Greenland. If there is to be real involvement of user knowledge in fisheries management then concrete support is needed to ensure that this knowledge is incorporated at national level. It is recommended that the inclusion of user knowledge be written into the aims of the new Fisheries Act.


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