Capturing stakeholder perspectives through a collaboration with a commercial fishing cooperative
Fisheries management should account for the tradeoffs associated with regulatory options to minimize unintended consequences and undue impacts on stakeholder communities. Importantly, these assessments necessitate the inclusion of the perceptions of resource users to help anticipate consequences. While stakeholder involvement is a central tenet in federal fisheries management, managers are faced with many challenges such as those associated with collecting perspectives from diverse groups and the potential biases associated with public testimony. Here we demonstrate the strength of a collaborative approach to generating social information from a commercial fishing cooperative (i.e., an association) by partnering with the Pollock Conservation Cooperative, a fishing cooperative for the Bering Sea pollock Catcher/Processor fleet in Alaska. To understand how the fleet may respond to hypothetical regulatory and environmental changes, we collaboratively designed a survey and applied a novel participant-selection strategy that focused on personnel involved in decision-making at the corporate and vessel levels. Our findings revealed that respondents from separate companies and with different performance histories had different perceptions, suggesting that broad fleet-level analyses are critical for management strategy evaluations that seek to understand the impacts of environmental change and regulatory decisions on a fishery. As such, establishing lines of applied sociological research could benefit from a collaborative approach that accounts for the fishery's organizational structure.