Maiken Bjørkan’s Blog: Closing GAPs in Costa Brava?

From November 2013 until March 2014, Maiken, a social anthropologist based in Norway, will be living and working in Spain. Working with fishermen and scientists,Maiken will be studying the GAP2 Red Shrimp from a “people perspective”.

Here, Maiken explains the details of her Exchange Trip. Read her other blog posts here.

The Headlines
From November 2013 until March 2014, I will be living and working in Spain as part of the GAP2 Exchange Programme. I will be working with GAP partners, the Marine Science Institute (ICM-CSIC) and the Regional Federation of Fishery Associations of Girona, Spain. Dr Joan B. Company is the head scientist I will be working with, together with his team at the ICM-CSIC, Gioulia Gorelli and Francesc Maynou, in order to study the process of the Management Plan of the Palamos Shrimp.

Maiken and her daughter Alma in the first apartment they rented. Beautiful view over parque Joan Miro!

What’s it all about?
This GAP2 Exchange will be the only one which follows a GAP2 case study after the co-produced management plan is implemented as part of official regulations. My exchange visit will provide unique insights regarding the attitudes and experiences of fishers after their knowledge has been included.

According to key social scientific theories central to GAP2, when fishers’ voice and knowledge are put to work, fishers will follow regulations as they find them more legitimate. Put differently, this is an important part of the GAP between fishers and scientists – scientists are typically considered experts that are asked for advice in resource management while fishers are not.

So, what happens when fishers are actually listened to? Are they content with the new management plan? Do they find it more legitimate? Do they follow the regulations?  Also, it is important to ask how scientists perceive this development, as it challenges their authority and monopoly in the role of expert. With this specific case, we can get a glimpse of what can happen to the GAP between fishers, science and society when fishers’ knowledge is included. Is it bridged? What challenges need to be overcome? Has the inclusion of fishers’ knowledge generated new GAPs?

What will we be doing?
During the exchange, we plan to carry out several activities, which I will come back to as they are realized. Since I am a social anthropologist, this stay will be organized as an anthropological fieldwork, and I will do participatory observations with the scientists and fishers, as well as interviews. My role at the exchange organization will be to follow their different activities, especially the fishers’ activities. I also want to go fishing with them and do interviews in different settings.

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