Governing the fisher body – safety as body-politics and fisheries governance

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 9:22pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 07/2017
Authors: Signe Sonvisen, Trine Thorvaldsen, Jahn Johnsen
Journal title: Maritime Studies
Volume: 16
Issue: 1

Body Mass Index (BMI) is not only the prevailing tool used for defining and diagnosing obesity, but it is also a tool that intervenes into fisheries governance, and into fishers’ lives and bodies. All fishers on board vessels over 100 gross tons (GT) must hold a seaman’s licence; too high a BMI may lead to a “loss-of-licence” and the inability to undertake their occupation. From a governmentality perspective, this paper discusses the use of the seaman’s licence and explores how BMI may be an instrument in fisheries governance. We examine how safety policies link to storylines around health and obesity to produce healthy and safe fishers, and how this in turn links to the overall objective of governmentality: to produce productive labourers (fishers). We explore the multiple materialities of the BMI by looking at Norwegian fisheries’ safety policies from a Foucauldian perspective and question the wider implications of a safety policy focused on BMI and obesity.

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