New England Fish Forum updates
I wanted to do a quick check-in post making public the New England Fish Forum web presence(s)! The main site is here for the New England Fish Forum, and the sister project, the interactive Knowledge Database, is here.
I’ve been in touch with a lot of people over the last week, and things look promising for the first Conversation to take place in June in Rhode Island (a southern Massachusetts one will also be coming up). While fisheries management is endlessly frustrating, it seems, I am continually heartened at how eager and willing fishermen, scientists and managers are to talk to me when I introduce the Fish Forum as an idea. In the meantime…
1. Our Fish Interactive Knowledge Database
I am meeting with the heads of fishing industry orgs, scientists, managers and people at collaborative research initiatives to get this really useful–not to mention used!
I would like to hold at least three, but hopefully more, Conversations this summer. These will be informal meetings between industry members, scientists and managers, sort of in the vein of the last workshop but without a research intent. I may prompt and moderate but in general I envision these as alternative salons for shoulder-rubbing and hopefully communication to happen in a way that is positive and more productive than within the Council structure, at least as it is perceived. I am trying to book the Commercial Fisheries Center at URI East Farm for the first one, and I wanted to coordinate with the Women & Fisheries project as well (they envisioned an all-women workshop for the month of June). I still believe that the Fish Forum must include men in the discussion, but I agree that having some of the Conversations be all-women will be beneficial for a number of reasons that I’ll write about in greater detail another time.
3. Fish Party ’09
I met with a wonderful marine anthropologist at SMAST last week. She is young and enthusiastic and has done her own share of work not just on fishing boats (for her education) but with women in fishing. She feels like a lot of the best breaking down of barriers happens at parties and we may be planning a party with no meeting agenda, nothing on the table to discuss, just invite everyone remotely related to fishing in New England, in the spirit of being in the same boat. Must consider food, beverage and location and timing questions of course. I’m thinking July, week before the Point Judith Blessing of the Fleet, or mid-August, before the Cape Cod Hook Association’s Hookers’ Ball. Yes, that is a thing.
This will be in the back of my mind for the fall… setting up a 24-hour 1-800 number that is staffed that fishermen can call to ask any questions about the latest regulations, since so many of them don’t seem to now who to call, and end up frustrated at the lack of communication from management. It would need separate funding.
I learn and relearn just how interesting fisheries issues are in New England. The networks and avenues through which the commercial fishing industry operates as a community are complex, organic and difficult to map. Meanwhile, the council structure is accustomed to organizing, boxing and bagging its own fisheries categories that usually do not correspond with how the commercial industry community (to whatever extent it is a ‘community’) goes about getting things accomplished. This is a fascinating human problem with ecological as well as social consequences. Perhaps the New England Fish Forum will be one way acknowledge and strengthen the less structured but nonetheless important relationships in fisheries.