Research undertaken in the Human Dimensions of Fisheries and Aquaculture research theme is features a mix of funded and unfunded research. This is a field that has largely been neglected in New Zealand and the projects have therefore had to gather funds from sources as and where they could be found. Each project is therefore effectively a sub-theme are that gathers its resources from several small projects whose individual objectives contribute to address the larger project problematic. The listed projects or subthemes here therefore have no timeframe, they will be pursued until there is a consensus that it is not fruitful to continue them further.
The historical relationships and environmental histories project draws together researchers with expertise in history and fishing or aquaculture, to understand the transformation of the human activities (recreational, subsistence or commercial), livelihoods and associated environmental relationships, in particular within New Zealand. The Indigenous fisheries and customary rights in the modern era project places greater attention on the nature of indigenous rights, particularly Māori, and the ways in which the tensions of customary rights are played out in the modern era. An emphasis is on a critical examination of solutions that have been developed in the New Zealand context and their potential for use in other settings. This leads to comparative analyses with the situation of other indigenous or first peoples. The Institutional structures and fisheries project addresses the governance of fisheries and aquaculture and the integration of these sectors into the wider coastal and marine management structures and the implications for sustainability. It is perhaps the most integrative of the projects in this theme.
The tensions between fisheries and aquaculture and the governance and use of protected marine and freshwater places, and related species, are addressed in the Protected areas and popular recreational spaces project. This project also includes consideration of the competition and management of popular recreational spaces (in lakes, rivers, beaches, bays and more remote places) by diverse recreational users in terms of their conflicts with fisheries and aquaculture.
Research in these areas has identified the importance of values and decision-making processes in recreational fisheries and related sectors. Such values include the amenity and aesthetic values, the socio-cultural values and the economic values of such users and these are tackled in the project Recreational fisheries values, decision-making and negotiation which draws on the skills of economists, sociologists, geographers, recreational and leisure researchers, and landscape architects. The processes of decision-making and negotiating with families to undertake recreational fishing, motives for fishing and for choosing particular places to fish, are addressed in this research project as we seek to anticipate the consequences of global and local environmental changes on such users and their families.
In the project Transforming the land/seascapes of fisheries and aquaculture, the decision-making processes of the fishers and especially aquaculturists are the focus as we seek to understand and simulate the ways in which they change the land and seascapes. This research seeks to critically examine and provide decision support systems for policy, planning and management of such places, and draws on GIS, cellular automata and agent based modeling techniques. Cross-cutting issues that are identified in the other research projects or that are brought to us directly are addressed in the Intransigent problems in fisheries and aquaculture management project. Such issues include developing databases that can be used for several purposes, or addressing perennial problems like by-catch and compliance issues. This research theme is also closely linked with, draws on and contributes to the Public Perceptions of New Zealand's Environment project and the Natural Resource Management and Leisure & Events research themes.
Methodologies employed in these projects run the full gamut of qualitative and quantitative techniques and include: traditional historical analyses (documentary and oral); folkloric and ethnographic methods; surveys, participant observation, and rich case studies; and fuzzy logics, computer-based models and visualisation (including traditional GIS and regression models, and more recent agent/individual based, cellular automata models and simulation techniques).
Social construction, race and culture, and gendered analyses are present in several of the projects, as also are utilitarian and instrumentalist developments of tools and technologies. This reflects the breadth of ideological, political and philosophical perspectives held by people involved in this research theme and yet, perhaps surprisingly, we work well together. The intent is to be a welcoming place for researchers of whatever ilk, who have parts or the whole focus of their research projects addressing aspects of the human dimensions of fisheries and aquaculture.