Human dimensions information needs of fishery managers in the Laurentian Great Lakes
Fishery management is increasingly moving towards ecosystem-based approaches that integrate ecological and human dimensions of fisheries. Studies on the human dimensions (HD) of fisheries have increased in recent years. A gap, however, remains between the nature of available information and the information needed by fishery managers. Our paper addresses this gap for the Great Lakes fisheries. We explicitly explored information needs of fishery managers to better reconcile the supply and demand of HD information. Our study finds that managers need HD information in particular to demonstrate the achievements of management goals and to address management issues. In addition, understanding the purpose and timing of information is important in order to provide timely and relevant information as fishery managers identify distinct information needs for planning, decision-making, and evaluation of management. Fishery managers in our study were particularly interested in direct and indirect economic values of the fisheries as well as values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of users. Interviewed managers were not only interested in the status quo of these factors but also wanted to understand what influences and shapes them. In addition, fishery managers would like to understand the contribution of fisheries to ecosystem services in the basin including cultural values. Our interviews did not detect interest in information on long-term HD trends or the explicit need for interdisciplinary studies. Such information, however, would be critical to understand and predict changes in the human dimensions of the fisheries and to develop management strategies to cope with these changes.