Analysis of Stakeholder Perceptions on the Values and Conflicts of Wild Salmon Management in Scotland: A pilot study

Issues in fisheries management can be perceived as “wicked problems” i.e. complex and perpetually evolving with no clear solution. The emphasis has been for management to concern itself with the techno-scientific aspects to cure these issues i.e. gear and effort restriction or increase in scientific research. Less consideration is applied to investigating social and political dimensions although this view is changing towards a more multi dimensional approach. Evidence suggests by bringing various stakeholders and their differing perspectives and ‘experience background knowledge’ together can aid in achieving greater compliance, higher quality decision making and a fishery which is grounded on sound judgement and morals. This paper investigated the social and political dimensions entangled in the wild Atlantic salmon fisheries of Scotland. This species is highly prized economically through recreational angling fisheries and maintains small scale traditional net fishers as part of Scottish culture and heritage. Recent declines in catches for Atlantic wild salmon in Scotland, no overall national management plan and rapidly increasing modern pressures has raised the issue of wicked problems for their fisheries. So far no sociological study has been undertaken to assess the social and political values and dimensions which exist within this fishery. By bringing together the perspectives of 23 stakeholders involved in management, conservation and resource utilisation, perspectives of participation, the management system, its governance and principles needed for sustainable management are investigated. Responses revealed that only the netting fisheries felt undervalued and unfairly treated in the current management system resulting in distrust for other stakeholders. All management, conservation and angling representatives felt valued and engaged in decisions affecting wild salmon and overall satisfied with the present District based co management system in place. Management and conservation had strong trust in the commitment of other stakeholders and the effectiveness in voluntary action. However management had no trust for the commitment of Government feeling frustrated due to feelings of over prioritisation of the economic principle at the expense to survival of wild salmon. Management felt legislation, enforcement and resources, particularly science knowledge, are generally lacking to adequately protect wild salmon but this feeling differed between Districts. Conservation representatives valued the need for an evidence based approach whilst management valued the need for fair governance. Resource users prioritised social and economical principles. Solutions ultimately rely on all four principles together, which can only occur if management is grounded in equality and respect alongside scientific knowledge.

ISCED Categories

The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0312 - Policy and governance", "0831 - Fisheries