“Doing it to tick a box is an insult to everybody”: Reflecting on participatory practices across Europe in Fisheries Science

Author: Simone Rödder – University of Hamburg, Germany


  • Vera Köpsel – University of Hamburg, Germany

Since the ‘participatory turn’, public participation in research is conceptualised as a social as well as an epistemic value and participatory elements are increasingly required to succeed in national as well as European funding schemes. With increased participation, knowledge production is expected to change from exclusive to inclusive and from esoteric to ‘socially robust’ and sustainable. These participatory practices, however, await investigation: What concepts of ‘research’ and ‘knowledge’ do the different approaches embody? In how far are different kinds of expertise acknowledged? What relationships develop between experts, communities and policymakers? Where is the line between empowerment and exploitation? Moreover: Do these practices challenge or rather support implicit communication models such as the deficit model?

In this contribution, we aim at advancing ‘research for all’ by both theorising participatory science and its underlying values and by exploring how participation plays out in practice. Our empirical case is fisheries science, an applied field that by way of assessing fish stocks provides policy and management advice. The field’s key stakeholders are fisheries scientists, fishers, fisheries managers, representatives of the industry, and local and EU policy and governance agencies. Whilst the views of stakeholders on engagement in fisheries science are fairly well researched, there is a gap in our understanding of the rationale and motivations of the scientists who engage. We therefore specifically look at how fisheries scientists’ perceive their engagement with other stakeholders and compare engagement practices in five case study regions across Europe, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Bay of Biscay, the North Sea, the North-western European Shelf and the Eastern Baltic Sea. The talk will present findings based on 25 interviews with scientists in the case study regions.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Insight talk
Theme: Transformation