Role of communities in fisheries management: “one would first need to imagine it.”

Are coastal communities relevant in fisheries management? Starting from what Svein Jentoft has had to say about the topic, we explore the idea that viable fishing communities require viable fish stocks, and viable fish stocks require viable fishing communities. To elaborate and expand on Jentoft’s arguments, first, we discuss values as a key attribute of communities that confer the ability to manage coastal resources. Turning to power, next we explore why fishing communities need to be empowered by having the opportunity to self-manage or co-manage resources. Third, regarding community viability, we make the argument that (1) rebuilding or maintaining viable fishing communities and fish stocks cannot succeed without first dealing with vulnerabilities, and that (2) the dimensions of vulnerability involve increase/decrease in well-being, better/poorer access to capitals, and building/losing resilience. The idea that healthy fishing communities and healthy fish stocks require one another implies a viable system that contains both, a social-ecological system view. The values embedded in communities enable them to manage resources. Thus, managers and policy makers need to imagine healthy fishing communities who take care of resources, and this positive image of communities is more likely than present policies to lead to viable fishing communities as well as viable fish stocks.