The Tragedy of the Independent: Public Policy and Traditional Recruitment in Nova Scotia’s Small Boat Fishery.
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The industrialization and modernization of the fishery in Atlantic Canada has had a destructive effect on small boat dependent fisheries communities. The neoliberal policies and processes of the current political economy support corporate, wealth accumulation fishing and make it extremely difficult for small boat marine harvesters to participate in the fishery. This disrupts important local level social and economic processes that underwrite family and community in coastal settings. In particular, traditional patterns of recruitment based on networks of kith and kin relations are challenged by restrictive management policies. These traditional processes mobilize the continuation of local knowledge, fishing skills, and the family unit over generations, and as such are a key source of human and social capital, and thus sustainability, in small boat dependent fisheries communities. However, restrictive entry and allocation policies such as limited entry licensing and individual quota management make it increasingly difficult for youth to choose fishing as a livelihood. This research assembles fundamental data regarding small boat dependent fisheries communities and how they have changed in response to the political economy over time. It also incorporates survey data from a sample of small boat marine harvesters which illustrates family and life histories in coastal communities in Nova Scotia. The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) is used to illustrate the value of the social and human capital present in social networks in fisheries communities, and argue that these more qualitative types of capital assets are necessary for achieving sustainable livelihoods, fisheries and communities.