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Contextualizing Marine Resource Use: A Case from the Netherlands

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Van Ginkel, Rob
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2029
Sector: Fisheries
Region: Europe
Subject(s): IASC
marine resources
Abstract: "...Based on ethnohistorical research in two distinct areas in the Netherlands (viz. the province of Zeeland and the Frisian Island of Texel), the present paper: attempts to delineate the ecological, economic and political factors impinging on oyster fishing and farming, the coping responses of the fishers and the transformations brought about by these intertwined processes. As will be shown in two extended case histories, remote contextual factors played an extremely important role in long-term developments in the oyster industry. In any kind of governance structure the fact that small causes can have huge consequences has to be taken into account. This means incorporating context in the models underlying such structures. Here, 'context' does not necessarily refer to factors within wholes like a predefined and bounded ecosystem, society or community. We have to look beyond such entities which we have devised for analytical purposes. Due attention to context in the elucidation of actions and consequences may mean dealing with loose, transient and contingent interactions and disarticulating processes from within and from without predetermined units. An insular view of ecosystems, societies or cultures does not allow for an understanding of the multiplicity of forces working upon such entities. Remote contextual factors are usually beyond the control of a user community. In a globalizing world, ecological, economic, social and political interdependencies have but reinforced the impact of external factors on socio-cultural entities defined as geographically bounded wholes. We should take into account that the blurring of boundaries is part of the problem we are dealing with. A conceptual framework will be used to highlight some basic factors which make for uncertainty and impede government structures. These include diversity, complexity and dynamics. Though often referred to as interfering with management objectives and desired outcomes, these broad factors are insufficiently theorized. This paper attempts to explicate these concepts. Its main goal is to arrive at a framework which includes the contextual factors and feedback loops that influence fisheries and fisheries management. The framework can be used as a sensitizing model, i.e. it focuses attention on important interferential factors which make for diversity, complexity and dynamics, and it tries to show how these factors are interrelated. Therefore, it is also a restatement of the old social science problem of how to relate micro- and macro-levels. Zooming in on contextual factors may provide precisely the locus where the micro-macro interface can be discerned and studied most advantageously."

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