Balancing ecology, economy and culture in fisheries policy: Participatory research in the Western Mediterranean demersal fisheries management plan

Sílvia Gómez, Francesc Maynou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Fishing communities in the Mediterranean Sea face challenges in dealing with Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) ecosystem-based management measures aimed at reducing fishing effort and implementing partial closures of fisheries. The Participatory Action Research method is used here as a “pilot experience” to gather reactions from fishers, scientists and fisheries managers to the Western Mediterranean Multi-Annual Demersal Fisheries Plan (WM MAP) by identifying needs and concerns, but also alternatives to maintain the viability of the fishery. The data gathering process consisted on a structured questionnaire administered during a workshop to 40 stakeholders involved in Spanish fisheries in the Mediterranean, followed by an open discussion session. The results show that fishers disagree with the new regulations, which they perceive as yet another layer of restrictive regulations for an industry that faces major challenges and currently has low profitability, whereas scientists tended to agree more with the WM MAP than the administration or the fishers. Nevertheless, all stakeholders agree that the values of the cultural heritage of fisheries and the exploration of alternative marketing systems should balance the productivity-based approach to fisheries policies followed so far, that have shown signs of failure. According to stakeholder perceptions, this would improve the economic and social viability of fisheries, as well as highlight the value of fishing activity and its social prestige. Integrating the value of cultural heritage and post-production processes into the CFP would improve stakeholder involvement in fisheries policies. Through participatory research methods the ecosystem-based management approach could be embedded in a community-based approach, integrating its social actors in a proactive attitude and considering fisheries as a human activity socially and culturally rooted in the environment, which would enhance the effective implementation of fisheries policies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Common fisheries policy
  • Cultural heritage
  • Demersal fisheries
  • Marketing systems
  • Mediterranean sea
  • Participatory research
  • Stakeholder engagement


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