Maiken Bjørkan’s blog: Viva España!

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 involved in the Red Shrimp case study, Maiken will be studying how management plans are implemented from a “people perspective”. You can read all her blog posts here.

I love doing fieldwork. However, I do not love preparing for it. It means cleaning and packing and trying not to forget stuff. This time, it has meant even more preparation since I am taking my baby girl (Alma, soon to be 8-months old) and partner (Bjørn) as well. However, now that we are here, it is all worth it.

Barcelona is a gorgeous city, we have a nice apartment next to Camp Nou, and Joan B. Company (our lead scientist in Barcelona) has provided me with an office space ON the beach promenade. Instead of the cold and windy streets of Tromsø where the sun hides below the mountains, I am looking at the sunny Mediterranean Sea framed by palm trees. I love doing fieldwork!

Settling in
Since this is an exchange visit, a lot of the fieldwork preparation has been a free ride so far. Joan has organised an office, I have met some of the other science partners, and I have been given a lot of reading material. Normally, I would have preferred to get a lot of the information before going on the field, but most of it isn’t available online so one really needs to be there to get started (as always, I find). We are already planning to go to the port of Palamos next week, depending on the weather. I often find that the world of fisheries management is quite small, especially in the social science sphere, and this has proven to be true in Spain too; I have found a social scientist named Joan L. Alegret, working with the management plan. I have already made contact with him (Note: I am sure that he will be a great informant for the case – he has been working with these fishers for years!).

Getting back to the case
First of all, I want to get an understanding of the process of the management plan, and the why and how of the alliances that are made between fishers and scientists here. After meeting some of the local scientists, I am starting to understand that it is a little more complex than I first thought (it always is).

So to achieve this, I need to get an overview of the general context in which the case is located: the Mediterranean (Note: why did I not read up more on the actual management plan, working groups, assessments etc?? Go here to learn more).

Actually, the Med management is comprised of 21 countries + EU and Japan (Note: why Japan???). According to the local GAP partners, the Palamos Shrimp management plan will be the first management plan in the Med, which in general is managed through input (fishing effort) and selectivity instruments.

Secondly, I need to get to know the local context and actors.

NOTE ON METHOD: Doing fieldwork ON scientists gives me somewhat of an identity crisis. Since we are colleagues, I want them to respect me and I want to demonstrate that I have the skills and understanding of biological aspects as well. I have been through this during my PhD as well (with the IMR scientists) so I was somehow more prepared this time. Still, I think it is difficult since I get more information by being a “naive anthropologist” in the field.

Till next time!

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