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Making space for plural ontologies in fisheries governance: Ireland's disobedient offshore islands

Brennan, Ruth


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    <subfield code="a">Ontology · Political ontology · Environmental governance · Fisheries governance · Small-scale fisheries · Islands</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">Collaborative Sustainable Innovation: co-designing governance approaches for a sustainable and innovative small-scale fishing industry in the Irish islands</subfield>
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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;This paper contributes to the growing body of literature that engages with ontological scholarship&amp;nbsp;on&amp;nbsp;fisheries management and governance, and more generally, to debates on environmental governance.&amp;nbsp;It argues that fisheries governance&amp;nbsp;is&amp;nbsp;an ontological challenge that raises questions of culture, equity, legitimacy and inclusion/exclusion, requiring&amp;nbsp;more context-sensitive and politically aware fisheries governance approaches.&amp;nbsp;By engaging with the concept of political ontology, and&amp;nbsp;drawing&amp;nbsp;from empirical research carried out in&amp;nbsp;Ireland&amp;rsquo;s offshore islands,&amp;nbsp;five ontological assumptions&amp;nbsp;are identified that underpin&amp;nbsp;Irish fisheries governance and management policies and practices, and&amp;nbsp;categorised as social-historical, ecological, geographical, technocratic and markets-driven.&amp;nbsp;Articulating and examining these assumptions provides insights into why policy objectives aimed at&amp;nbsp;supporting&amp;nbsp;small-scale fisheries and their communities may, in practice, not be effective when they are operationalised within a governance paradigm designed around the realities of large-scale, full-time, highly mobile&amp;nbsp;and more economically productive operators.&amp;nbsp;Despite the efforts of ontologically disobedient islanders, the enactment of these ontological assumptions into the dominant world of fisheries governance&amp;nbsp;inhibits&amp;nbsp;the&amp;nbsp;emergence of possible worlds&amp;nbsp;that&amp;nbsp;would&amp;nbsp;enact&amp;nbsp;Irish&amp;nbsp;island inshore fisheries through island logics.&amp;nbsp;The paper concludes that&amp;nbsp;the&amp;nbsp;squeeze on&amp;nbsp;Ireland&amp;rsquo;s&amp;nbsp;island inshore fishers is not simply spatial, it is ontological.&amp;nbsp;The dominant fisheries ontology that has been created by the interplay of ontological assumptions&amp;nbsp;undermines&amp;nbsp;the State&amp;rsquo;s critical policy to maintain and manage&amp;nbsp;Irish fisheries as a public resource&amp;nbsp;so that&amp;nbsp;opportunities are not concentrated into the hands of large and powerful fishing interests.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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