Industrialising the Marine Commons

Adapting to Change in Europe’s Coastal Fisheries

Authored by: David Symes , Jeremy Phillipson

Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804371
eBook ISBN: 9781315753041
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619864


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Fishing is widely recognised as one of the most dangerous and physically demanding occupations; it may require crews to work up to 18 hours a day for several days on end in appalling conditions in return for uncertain and sometimes quite meagre returns. Such unsocial working arrangements require major adjustments to family life (Williams, 2008), sometimes putting unbearable pressure on marital relations (Vervaele, 2014). Governed by vicissitudes of the weather, rhythms of the seasons and the variability of complex, dynamic ecosystems, no economic activity is so directly influenced by environmental conditions. Fishing remains, in practice, a hunting economy – albeit one that has been technologically enhanced. It is also a peripheral activity commonly associated with less developed rural areas. Highly fragmented and widely dispersed, the fishing industry is characterised by small-scale enterprises mainly in family ownership. Poorly organised at national and regional levels and often weakly integrated into the wider business community, it usually commands little political influence.

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