Project Summary and Methodology

Our research project began with community mapping research in June, 2008 with support from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador (Fisheries and Aquaculture, Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and Environment and Conservation departments) and the Ocean Management Research Network (OMRN) at the University of Ottawa. This resulted in a detailed community map with over 200 new place names – a clear example of the value of local knowledge that encouraged us to continue further research. The three principle researchers are Dr. Derek Smith, a geographer at Carleton University, Dr. Maureen Woodrow, a sociologist at the University of Ottawa and Executive Director of the Ocean Management Research Network, and Dr. Kelly Vodden, a geographer at Memorial University. Several graduate students have also made significant contributions, in particular Bojan Fürst, Ahmed Khan, and Adèle Michon. The Change Islands Town Council has been a key partner in this project. Research findings, maps and other results have been presented in the Policy Briefs available on this web site, in newsletters such as The Pilot and The Fogo Island Flame, and further analysis will be available in forthcoming journal article publications.

Data collection for this study was undertaken through review of previous studies, interviews with fish harvesters, community leaders, fisheries managers, and union representatives, participant observation and “kitchen table mapping” within an overall participatory action research framework. The research aims to raise awareness among fisheries decision-makers of local perspectives through policy briefs and this web site to share this information widely. A core element of field research methodology consisted of “kitchen table mapping”, a collaborative mapping session undertaken with local residents in their homes. Community mapping provided important insights into the nature of local knowledge and provided opportunities to enter into conversations about history, culture, environment, land cover, economy, demography and other topics associated with different places. Five field visits were made to Change Islands by the research team. One important element of the field research consisted of participant observation, whereby Dr. Smith accompanied islanders during fishing trips to observe typical natural resource use, ocean travel, and other activities first hand, and to conduct informal interviews, which were used to help formulate subsequent interview questions. Further, Dr. Woodrow is a seasonal resident of the community, providing important insights and relationships that facilitated the project.

The cornerstone of the research presented in the policy briefs, however, are detailed semi-structured interviews that were undertaken in July and August 2009. These were more formal and in-depth interviews done with 10 core fish harvesters who run their own enterprises, representing all families who fish, and just under half of the 22 core harvesters with enterprises in the community. In addition, we also interviewed one licensed harvester who works as a crew member, and one retired fish harvester. The primary purpose of the interviews was to discuss with fish harvesters what they consider to be the key problems facing the inshore fishery today and how they might be resolved. The questions focused on fishing regulations, local knowledge and culture, constraints for economic viability, and policy options in maintaining traditional fishing heritage. The interviews each lasted between one and four hours, in two cases requiring two sessions to complete. An additional 11 interviews with other residents provided broader community perspectives on the fishery. Additional funding for this aspect of the research came from OMRN and Canadian Fisheries, Oceans, and Aquaculture Management (C-FOAM, also at the University of Ottawa). The public outreach and dissemination part of our project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

For more information about this project please contact:

Derek Smith
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Loeb Building, Carleton University
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6 Canada
Telephone: (613) 520-2600, extension 8131

Kelly Vodden
Department of Geography, Science Building
Memorial University, St. John’s, NL A1B 3X9 Canada
Tel: (709) 737-8981
Fax: (709) 737-3119

Maureen Woodrow
Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa
Tel: (613) 562-5800, extension 4920, or (613) 520-2600, extension 8934