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How Resilient Are Europe’s Inshore Fishing Communities to Change? Differences Between the North and the South

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One would hypothesize that the Common Fisheries Policy, as the umbrella framework for fisheries management in the EU would have the greatest impact on fishers’ communities across Europe. There are, however, biological, economic, social, and political factors, which vary among fishing communities that can affect how these communities react to changes. This paper explores the links between institutional arrangements and ecological dynamics in two European inshore fisheries socio-ecological systems, using a resilience framework. The Mediterranean small-scale fishers do not seem to have been particularly affected by the Common Fisheries Policy regulations but appear affected by competition with the politically strong recreational fishers and the invasion of the rabbit fish population. The inshore fishers along the East coast of Scotland believe that their interests are not as sufficiently protected as the interests of their offshore counterpart. Decisions and initiatives at global, EU, and sometimes national level, tend to take into account those fisheries sectors which have a national economic importance. A socio-ecological analysis can shift the focus from biological and economic aspects to more sustainable long-term delivery of environmental benefits linked to human wellbeing.

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  1. Social–ecological systems are complex, integrated systems in which humans are part of nature (Berkes and Folke 1998).

  2. For example, fuel subsidies to fishers aim to assist fishers in times when fuel prices are too high.

  3. The Cypriot inshore fleet had a value of around € 1.1 million in 2007, approximately $1 469 050 (Anderson and Guillen 2009).


  5. Visits along the North coast were not possible due the political situation in Cyprus: the island was partitioned in 1974 during the Turkish Invasion and the Northern part of the island has been under Turkish occupation since.

  6. This accusation was also made by small-scale fishers in the UK.

  7. Also known as the Erythrean invasion: the on-going migration of marine species across the Suez Canal, usually from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, or more rarely in the opposite direction.

  8. Council Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 of December 21, 2006 concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea.


  10. Categories A and B are for professional fishers for whom fishing is their main (Category A) or part-time (Category B) occupation.

  11. The adopted text can be found here:



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This research was funded by an ESRC/NERC studentship awarded to GEJ and MJK. We would like to thank all the fishers in Cyprus, Spain, and Scotland who took part in this survey and the following individuals and organizations which assisted during the visits to the various ports: Baden Gibson (East Coast Licensed Small Boat Association), Joan Moranta and everyone at the IEO (Oceanographic institute of the Balearic Islands), Fransesc Sarda Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona, and Josep Grassot i Paris Cofradia de Pescadores de Palamos.

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Correspondence to Maria Hadjimichael.

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Hadjimichael, M., Delaney, A., Kaiser, M.J. et al. How Resilient Are Europe’s Inshore Fishing Communities to Change? Differences Between the North and the South. AMBIO 42, 1037–1046 (2013).

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