Kari Stange’s Blog: Friendly hosts and difficult dialects

Kari will be based in Aberdeen, Scotland, during April 2013, spending time with the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF). Kari wants to gain insights into how fishing industry stakeholder views and messages are generated and communicated between different actors at local, national, and international levels and how this can help the GAP2 project. You can see all her blog posts here.

Sunny Aberdeen! My first impression could not have been better. My friendly exchange visit hosts at the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) had suggested I come over here for a pre-run in March. The Federation’s nine constituent associations are based all over Scotland, including Orkney and Shetland Isles. They have all come to Aberdeen to participate in meetings of SFF Sub Committees and Focus Groups so this could be a nice opportunity for me to get an overview of issues that are currently on the SFF agenda and to establish contacts which can be followed up when I return for a month-long visit in April. This sounded like good advice to me. So, I jumped on a plane and here I am.

The first challenge, as always when coming to the UK, is to not get run over when crossing the street! As we get settled in around the meeting table at the SFF offices I quickly discover what my next challenge will be: What are they all saying? I am pretty sure everybody speaks English, but some of these local dialects will take some getting used to for my Scandinavian ears.

We work our way through two days with full agendas and I get glimpses into the breath of issues that SFF are engaged in. Among topics discussed are the on-going CFP reform process and consequences of a discard ban, concerns about effort control regulations, conflicts of interests between the fishing sector and development of offshore renewable energy, and safety and education issues. Views represented around the table under the SFF umbrella include both fish and shellfish interests, pelagic and demersal fisheries, small scale to large scale, and inshore and off-shore operations.

Internal consensus-building is needed if SFF is to speak to the outside world with one voice and so, lengthy discussions are sometimes needed to allow everybody to raise their concerns and to find acceptable nuances in wording of statements. How this process works in a stakeholder organisation representing multiple interests is exactly what I wish to learn more about.

So, a very good start. I will soon be back for more!

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