Climate change and preserving the ecological balance is very important. Regulations on overfishing have been put in place for many years now to give the fishes a chance to replenish themselves. These regulations have, to some extent helped replenish the fisheries population, but on the other hand, these restrictions also affect the livelihood of the fishermen.
“There is policy in place that says that we have to make decisions to protect the fish stocks, prevent overfishing, and stimulate recovery, but there are also layers to those policies that say that we have to think about the well-being of fishing communities and think about managing for people,” says Steven Scyphers, an Assistant Professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University, and lead author of the study.
A survey was conducted to monitor the psychological distress of fishermen over a period of six years starting in 2013. The survey concluded that most of the fishermen were under high psychological distress since there is now a restriction on their livelihood. Many find it difficult to make ends meet with limited income and also to take up second jobs to cover costs, fisheries being such demanding profession which requires hours on the sea.
“They’ll avoid going to the dock, or they’ll avoid going to the bait house,” says Scyphers, whose co-authors were J. Steven Picou and Northeastern professor Jonathan Grabowski on this research. “They don’t want to see someone that asks them, ‘Have you been fishing lately?’ if the fishery is closed. So they’ll totally avoid, say, going to have a beer on Friday because they don’t want to have those interactions.” “The policy is that management should be driven by the best scientific information available,” Scyphers says. “And social science is part of the best scientific information available. It’s not just the number of fish.”
Our ecosystem needs to be protected, agreed. However, so do people.