Transdisciplinary Engagement to Address Transboundary Challenges for Small-Scale Fishers

  • Joeri ScholtensEmail author
  • Andrew M. Song
  • Johny Stephen
  • Catalina García Chavez
  • Maarten Bavinck
  • Merle Sowman
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 21)


Small-scale fisheries and their governance are increasingly affected by natural, social, and political issues that originate outside their immediate control and locality. This chapter explores how researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and fisher organizations can collaborate in the pursuit of empowerment small-scale fisheries vis-à-vis such ‘external’ dynamics, with a focus on maritime boundaries. To do so, we first analyse how transboundary maritime issues complicate the operation and welfare of small-scale fishers and may further their marginalization. Second, we explore how transdisciplinary engagement can be key to better understanding and addressing such transboundary challenges. Taking an action-oriented approach, we analyse the opportunities and pitfalls of transdisciplinary collaboration to empower small-scale fishers through five types of intervention strategies: capacity building (strengthening fisher organizations), institution building (building bridges between disparate actors), discourse (reframing the nature of the problem), law (appealing to national or international courts), and mobilization (mobilizing fishers to confront power). Each type of intervention is illustrated with a case study from various parts of the world. We argue that despite potentially conflicting incentives, interests, and accountabilities, transdisciplinary engagement can be both a meaningful and effective practice to empower small-scale fishers vis-à-vis transboundary challenges.


Transboundary Transdisciplinary Maritime boundaries Empowerment Interventions Small-scale fishers 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joeri Scholtens
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew M. Song
    • 2
    • 3
  • Johny Stephen
    • 4
  • Catalina García Chavez
    • 5
  • Maarten Bavinck
    • 1
  • Merle Sowman
    • 6
  1. 1.Amsterdam Institute for Social Science ResearchUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.WorldFishHoniaraSolomon Islands
  4. 4.Tata Institute of Social ScienceHyderabadIndia
  5. 5.Erigaie Foundation, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science ResearchUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Environmental and Geographical ScienceUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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