Habitat investigations are useful to fisheries managers because they can identify the importance of specific physical parameters to the species of interest and associated biological assemblages. Demographic information typically consists of data relating to a population and groups that comprise it. Examples of demographic data include age, gender, ethnicity, race, education level, income level, residence location and type, and household size. In a fisheries context, the population includes fishery participants (i.e., commercial, recreational and subsistence fishermen, and fish buyers), those who provide goods and services in support of their activities, other members of the communities where they are based or operate, and consumers of seafood. Demographic data and analyses may be used to: characterize individuals, communities and other aggregates of people, including sociocultural groups, fisheries, and associated communities; identify historic variability and change in populations and groups; and measure change or impacts resulting from management action or other factors. Demographic changes, in turn, can signal changes in motivations, values, and practices.
Practices are the ways people do things and include where, when, and how they participate in fisheries and fishery-related activities. More specifically, practices include how vessels, equipment, and gear are configured and used, whether and how certain species are targeted, caught, and handled, and how the catch is distributed. Practices also include patterns of use in time and space of fishery resources, marine areas, coastal harbors, and infrastructure. These necessarily include analyses of characteristics such as: vessel length, hull material, fish holding capacity, engine type and horsepower; type of navigation, fish-finding, and gear-handling equipment; gear types, configurations, and number of units; and number of crew and their roles. The characteristics of the shore side operations may vary in many ways, including whether operations for receiving fish are mobile or fixed, the size and function of these operations, and the handling, processing, and distribution operations. Understanding fishery-related practices is key to identifying sources and solutions for ecological and socioeconomic concerns.
Motivations are the reasons why people do the things they do. Although it is often assumed that individual behavior is fully rational and driven by reason, with economic motivations, growing evidence indicates that individuals are motivated by a complex mix of social, cultural, and economic values. An understanding of fishery participants’ motivations for fishing and related activities can be used to develop management options that create appropriate and effective incentives for compliance, and to evaluate those options in terms of their acceptability, compliance, and socioeconomic outcomes.
Institutions are the formal (e.g., regulations) or informal (e.g., shared understandings of where and how gear is set, the distance between operations) norms, rules, and strategies that govern peoples’ behavior. Formal institutions include those specific to a given fishery, and those that pertain to other state- and federally-managed fisheries, broader marine space use, coastal land use, environmental protection, food production, public heath, and other relevant topics. Understanding the formal and informal institutions that affect fishery participants and associated communities is useful for evaluating the potential efficacy and outcomes of fishery management actions, and for guarding against unintended consequences (e.g., effort shifts from one species to another, or to potentially sensitive or vulnerable areas).
Relationships include the social and economic connections among people that are ongoing and meaningful to those people. In fisheries, such relationships include those among fishermen, buyers, and providers of supporting goods and services, within and among fishing families and communities, and between fishery participants and fisheries managers. Relationships can also be among organizations and communities, through which information and social and economic resources flow. They reflect interdependencies among those connected for a range of tangibles (e.g., income, goods, services, practical support) and intangibles (e.g., information, shared identity, sense of belonging). Information about these relationships is useful for understanding how the fisheries-human system functions, and for assessing social and economic impacts of change.
Fisheries-relevant capital includes the natural, human, physical, and financial resources needed and used by fishery participants and communities to sustain their activities and generate associated benefits (e.g., livelihood, recreation, sustenance). Natural capital consists of the ecological system, including living resources and habitat. Human capital includes people, and the skills and knowledge they possess individually and collectively. Physical capital includes vessels, equipment, gear, ports and other landing sites and facilities, and seafood processing facilities. Financial capital includes the monetary resources used to purchase or provide physical capital and goods and services to enable human activities. Understanding the types of capital needed, available, and used by fishery participants, fisheries, and communities is useful for better understanding fisher-related behavior, social and economic impacts, and opportunities and challenges to effective adaptation to environmental and regulatory change.
Employment relevant to fisheries and their management includes part- and full- time, seasonal, and year-round jobs in fishing and seafood production and those jobs associated with the provision of supporting infrastructure and goods and services, including related research and management activities. Changes in fishing opportunities and activities can have direct, indirect, and induced effects on employment among fishery participants, goods and service providers, and others in the associated communities and economies. Jobs gained or lost in one part of the human system affect those in other parts of the system. Employment information is useful for evaluating the impacts of management change on fishery participants, communities, and economies.
Revenues consist of payments received by fishery participants and businesses for fish landed, handled, processed, and sold. Revenue also includes payments received for fishery-related goods and services, ranging from charter fishing trips to vessel, gear, equipment, gear sales, boat rentals, fuel, bait, and ice. Revenues may originate and circulate primarily within a community, although they typically come from and/or circulate outside a given community. Information about fishery-related revenues is useful for assessing the impacts of changing resource availability and management on fishery participants, fisheries, fishing communities, and the overall economy. Moreover, changes in revenues, such as the ex-vessel price for commercially-caught species can signal a change in fishing practices.