TitleFisheries governance and associated health implications: Current perspectives from US commercial fishermen
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsSorensen, JA, Kincl, L, Weil, R, Dzugan, J, Christel, D
JournalMarine Policy
Date Published07/2022


  • Commercial fishermen experience numerous barriers to participation in the fisheries governance process.
  • These barriers, can cause stress and lead to negative impacts on work schedules, income, safety and work processes.
  • Ideas for improving participation in the governance process are discussed.

Developing useful regulations that lead to intended effects from originating legislation can be a challenge for those entities that are implementing and responding to those regulations. In the commercial fishing industry, fisheries management regulations are fundamentally designed to conserve and sustain marine resources. Numerous studies have underscored the importance of engaging commercial fishermen in discussions of how to best preserve these resources. By ensuring numerous, diverse perspectives, policies and associated implementing regulations can thus address a broad spectrum of concerns and utilize input from a wide spectrum of knowledgeable informants to make regulations more effective and easier to enforce. The purpose of this manuscript is to share our findings on fishermen’s perceptions of the fisheries governance process and to describe how these perceptions impact their emotional health and willingness to engage in future fisheries management discussions. In sharing these perspectives, we hope to underscore the need for further research on fishermen’s governance experiences and to highlight how prior negative experiences could adversely impact future engagement with the process. The data highlighted in this study was gathered from interviews originally conducted to explore fishermen’s sleep patterns and general health in the Alaska salmon, Oregon Dungeness crab, Northeast scallop and Massachusetts lobster fisheries. However, a primary theme that emerged from these interviews was the impact that fisheries management decisions had on work-related stress. Stressors were largely related to increasing regulatory complexity and the economic impact of management decisions that add to an already challenging commercial enterprise. The governance process was also seen as yet another factor outside of fishermen’s direct control, which when combined with unpredictable weather, access to reliable crew and rapid shifts in market prices, has severe consequences to their overall sense of wellbeing. While increased engagement has been highlighted in the literature as a means for addressing fishermen’s regulatory concerns, our informants believe their input is neither valued nor prioritized, which appears to threaten future engagement in fisheries management discussions.


Short TitleMarine Policy