North Atlantic Fisheries in Change. From Organic Associations to Cybernetic Organizations
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Original versionMaritime Studies 2009, 7(2):55-82
During the 1990s radical changes took place in marine ecosystems, fisheries and fishing communities around the North Atlantic. Social-ecological restructuring involving interactive changes in marine ecosystems, harvest technologies, fisheries science, management practices and goals, fishing households and communities and markets radically transformed fisheries associations. This article draws on insights from multiple sources, including a series of career history and other semi-structured interviews with fishers from Newfoundland and Labrador and Norway. These insights are presented in the form of career histories of two fishers, one from North Norway and one from Labrador on Canada’s east coast. These career histories are contextualized within the larger literature on the post-World War II history of these two regions and the resulting descriptions are used to inform the design of three ideal types of fishery associations (organic, mechanical and cybernetic) that capture three main phases of interactive socialecological restructuring during this period. Our argument is that today’s North Atlantic harvesters are increasingly embedded in cybernetic fisheries organizations that are radically different from the forms of association that dominated in the past. In our analysis and conclusion we highlight the sustainability challenges and opportunities this process of cyborgization poses for these fishers and for North Atlantic fisheries in the future.