Enabling behavioural realism of fishing in models of fisheries

Author team

FIBE author team: Nanda Wijermans, Wijnand Boonstra, Kirill Orach, Jonas Hentati-Sundberg and Maja Schlüter.

After years of work and an engaging review process, we are very happy to share with you that our paper “Behavioural diversity in fishing—Towards a next generation of fishery models’ is out [1] [ link ].

What is the paper about?

The paper answers the call for more human behavioural realism in models of fisheries, in particular the little uptake of using insights from the social (fishery) sciences in fishery models. While focusing onfisher behaviour diversity, we make our contribution in 3 ways:

  1. Synthesis of relevant contribution of social science on behavioural diversity (Review 1). It points at motivations, abilities, livelihoods & social interactions as important factors and /or processes giving rise to behavioural diversity.
  2. Substantiate the little use of knowledge from social science on the diversity of fisher behaviour in fishery models (Review 2). Only a minority of fishery models have an endogenous and dynamics representation of fishers (29/1290), of which only 8 out of 29 reflect the highlights behavioural diversity dimensions from social fishery science.
  3. Demonstrate model design and use of a next generation fishery model (Agent-based modelling). We state that a next generation fishery model should embed all insights, including social fishery science insights, when relevant. To enable moving forward we detail the design of a fishery model that formalised social insights (the fishing styles [2]) and detail its use, in particular the ability to gain a multi-level understanding by enabling to ask why questions.

Process reflection

3-in-1: There is a crazy amount of work going into one paper, one can almost write 3 papers, one for each contribution. However, when looking at the task of advancing, moving beyond acknowledging we felt that showing concretely the next steps would be the most instrumental thing to do. Personally, I am not shying away from writing dense, multi-year work in one paper contributions, but realise I in the current keep-your-job-in-academia this may not be strategic to do. I guess we are content-wise strategic.

slow science: this paper truly reflects and connects the different expertise in the author team. The work is the result of many conversations, interpretations and checks on interpretations. I feel so lucky to work with people that are so curious that patience comes naturally. But also to sit with the uncomfortableness of not understanding, trying to get each other’s language and daring to ask the existential questions. Keeping the momentum up was the hardest thing in this project as at some point it was for everyone a side project. This a classic ’slow science’ project that we individually learned a lot from, but hopefully also allow the readers to reap the fruits from as well.

Revise-and-resubmit: I am thoroughly impressed with Fish & Fisheries‘s editor and the deep, critical and detailed reviews we received on the earlier versions of the manuscript. It made us re-realise how uncommon our use of models is. To focus on understanding, asking why and how questions instead of predicting and reproducing real-world patterns in a particular part of the world. To have one’s model value questioned is refreshing in the sense of having to formulate it concretely for oneself and others. Feels cliche to say, but communicating is bidirectional learning and for us: guidance in seeing. Thus I often found myself wanting to talk directly with the reviewers, not trying to imagine or assume how another person sees the world, but just asking and by talking figuring out how to communicate about ours.

Have fun reading the paper and feel free to approach us if you feel direct interaction is of use.




[1] Wijermans, N., Boonstra, W. J., Orach, K., Hentati-Sundberg, J., & Schlüter, M. (2020). Behavioural diversity in fishing—Towards a next generation of fishery models. Fish and Fisheries, 274(2), 30–19. http://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12466

[2] Boonstra, W. J., & Hentati-Sundberg, J. (2016). Classifying fishers’ behaviour. An invitation to fishing styles. Fish and Fisheries, 17(1), 78–100. http://doi.org/10.1111/faf.12092