Sarah Murray, a second year Master’s student in the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development program, has been awarded a research grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to conduct research in Galicia, Spain. Sarah’s research will use a mixed methods approach to examine how the dual understandings of fish population dynamics, represented by the E.U.’s Common Fishery Policy (CFP) and fishers’ local ecological knowledge, interact within the hake fishery in Galicia. She argues that uncovering the divergences between these two understandings may reveal the sources of noncompliance, as fishers are less likely to follow regulations that they do not believe to be credible. In addition, the knowledge of the fishers may provide important information about the hake that could be used to strengthen the CFP’s model.
Galicia’s rich fishing history and large artisanal fleet make it an ideal location to study local ecological knowledge of fish. There, knowledge of fishing practices and the sea have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. This rich history, in addition to the present day cultural, social, and economic importance of fishing, is also the reason that it is essential to successfully manage the fisheries in Galicia. However, 62% of Iberian Peninsula fish stocks are beyond safe biological limits, including its most valuable fish stock, the European hake. Sarah’s study aims to provide insight into two key culprits of this failure, rampant noncompliance and flawed fisheries stock models.