Improving the link between science and management: Drawing upon local fishers' experience
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Norwegian fish stock assessment has not included estimation of coastal and fjord resources until recently. The geographical area varies both in environmental and biological features. Stock assessment is especially difficult in these waters, and existing biological methods are insufficient. Drawing upon the knowledge of local fishermen in the various areas, may be a way to enhance the biological knowledge on fish distribution in coastal waters. Selected fishers are interviewed about the ecological conditions and the fishing activities, and some are involved as sample collectors. This is an untraditional method in marine research, and it is made possible through an interdisciplinary cooperation between biology and social science. Information such as fish distribution, spawning time and areas are plotted into maps, resulting in a useful and practical view of the data. Fishing sites being the "property", of fishers means caution in publishing the data. These and other ethical concerns are important learning's from this way of collecting biological information. Our project can be seen as a way of improving the link between science and management in three ways: 1) More knowledge hopefully gives better management, 2) An inter-disciplinary approach opens for seeing the use of resources and thereby coastal biology as the human project it actually is, 3) Involving fishermen directly may weaken the gap between scientists and fishers, and legitimise science, thereby improving the link to management.