This dissertation explores the long-term implications of Iceland’s nationwide Individual Transferrable Quota (ITQ) system on rural communities and small-boat fishing livelihoods drawing on two years of ethnographic research in Northwest Iceland, a nationwide mailed survey of small-boat fishermen, and the compilation of fisheries human dimension indicator data for the lumpfish fishery. Results from ethnographic interviews and participant observation show that while there is a wide range of complex political, social, and environmental changes affecting coastal communities, the changes brought on by the ITQ system are perceived to have been particularly significant. Survey results suggest that the majority of small-boat fishermen perceive the ITQ system as serving the goal of wealth accumulation over the goal of resource conservation. Survey respondents and interview informants report high cultural connections to fishing through family history, but express concern that future generations may be precluded from fisheries livelihoods due to the prohibitory cost of entry into the ITQ system. Furthermore, survey responses, ethnographic interviews, and indicator data suggest that non-ITQ fisheries like the lumpfish fishery and the strandveiðar season do not serve as substantial platforms to support newcomers to fisheries. These non-ITQ fisheries can make individuals and communities more resilient by providing extra income and, at the same time, can offer social flexibility to access a fishery of cultural and historical value. However, survey and interview data also suggest that the strandveiðar fishery has resulted in new rifts in communities as Icelandic society struggles with differing perceptions of equitable access to marine resources. Survey and interview data show how decision-making power lies in the hands of a few dominant interest groups, leaving smallboat fishermen and rural communities at a disadvantage with little power to meaningfully influence national politics. Finally, the compilation of human indicator data in the lumpfish fishery highlights concepts of multiple (social, economic, and biological) goals in fisheries management and the benefits of participatory governance structures. Conclusions from this dissertation underscore the complexity of fisheries systems and the important role equity plays in sustainable fisheries management and governance.
Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2016
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