Objectives: Weather is a key source of marine risk, but relationships between fishing activity, safety, and weather remain poorly understood. Critically, the fit between available marine forecast products, fish harvesters’ needs, and harvester’s decision-making processes has not been rigorously assessed. This paper addresses these gaps by documenting a) weather-related decision-making by harvesters, and its relationship to forecasts across multiple regions and fisheries on Canada’s East coast (Newfoundland) and b) the dynamics of forecast production priorities.
Methods: A multi-disciplinary, community-engaged research approach, conducted in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL-FHSA). Data consist of semi-structured interviews with fish harvesters and weather forecasters, focused on marine forecast production and use.
Results: Results emphasize that there is a subjective “art” to both production and use of marine forecasts. Forecasters and harvesters share several common values regarding forecasts, but different emphases: forecasters favor some combination of accuracy, consistency, and utility, while harvesters are largely concerned with utility. Finally, harvesters’ decision-making is based on nuanced and contextual interpretations of a few key hazards (winds and, to a lesser extent, waves).
Conclusion: This community-engaged research has triggered experimentation with forecasts tailored to fisheries utility within Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). It lays the groundwork for ongoing, mutually beneficial dialogue between forecasters and harvesters, engaging harvesters with the forecasting process while familiarizing forecasters with harvester’s decision-making processes. Ongoing industry partnerships (NL-FHSA) continue to sustain momentum from this study towards further enhancing the utility of future marine forecasts for small-scale harvesters.