Human dimensions of fisheries & aquaculture

The common property nature of fisheries resources has led to global concerns about how to ensure sustainable, equitable utilisation.  Aquaculture offers opportunities to supplement fish production, but its expansion over the last fifty years has led to concerns about pollution, biosecurity and competition over the allocation of marine and freshwater space between competing users.

The biophysical aspects of fisheries and aquaculture are now well understood, but the human dimensions have received far less attention. New Zealand is a natural laboratory of global significance for research on the human dimensions of fisheries and aquaculture. Its extensive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), settlement heritage, biophysical attributes, economic dependence on tourism and primary production and its international and Antarctic fisheries responsibilities, have resulted in significant experiments in governance and management mechanisms.

Man holding two Crayfish (Lobsters)New Zealand was the first country to implement Individually Transferable Quota to manage all its commercial fisheries and has adopted leading edge integrated effects-based planning for aquaculture and novel solutions to its indigenous people’s (Maori) fishery issues.  There are substantial recreational and tourism fishing activities, very significant indigenous people’s fisheries, and an extensive and growing array of freshwater and marine protected areas.  On the global scene New Zealand punches above its weight in multilateral environmental and trade agreements.  However, there has been very little research on the social and cultural aspects that have facilitated or inhibited sustainable innovation, and little critical examination of their success or consequences. There is even less known about fundamental social and cultural relationships between New Zealanders and fisheries and aquaculture. 

French Fishing BoatsThe purpose of the HDFA research area is to provide integration and a sustained focus and effort for research that explores human interactions and relationships with freshwater and saltwater fisheries and aquaculture (whether used for production, recreation, protection or tourism purposes).  This is achieved through networking researchers and practitioners and developing and implementing relevant research agenda to understand these human dimensions.

The diversity of research fields and disciplines involved in this research area includes: economics, parks and recreation; sport and leisure; tourism; planning; economics; anthropology; sociology; psychology; policy and political science; environmental management; development; gender; social science; Māori and indigenous peoples; geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS); architecture and history.

The research is funded from a variety of sources depending on the nature of the particular project. Funders have included regional councils, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Fisheries, NZ AID, and Sport & Recreation NZ.  International and local collaborators are welcome, and we are always keen to here from students interested in postgraduate research in these areas.


Page last updated on: 18/06/2013