FisherCoast is three-year project financially supported by The EU-India Platform for Social Sciences and Humanities (EqUIP). The project examines how government policies with regard to coastal development have transformed the physical, ecological and social character of coastal areas in India and selected European countries and how this has impacted the wellbeing of fishing communities, who are historically the main coastal inhabitants. While the modernization of fisheries that occurred in the past decades was aimed at economic progress, it also resulted in damage to marine ecosystems, to inequality and social conflict. Similarly, policies towards the end of the 20th century aimed at promoting industrial development and tourism threatened fishers by laying claim to coastal lands and polluting the seas they fish in.

The objective is to see how government laws and investment policies have reshaped the social ecology of the coast in India as well as in selected European countries, and thereby impacted fisher wellbeing. This objective is driven by our understanding that fishing communities have been the main inhabitants of the coast and depend on it for their livelihoods and are likely to be the most affected by transformations. Research subquestions are:

  1. How have government policies contributed to transformation of the coast in the period 1945-present?
  2. What have been the social-ecological consequences of government policies for fisheries as well as for the wider coastal area?
  3. How have changes in fisheries and the use of land and sea of the coastal area impacted labour practices and imaginations of the coast?
  4. What effects have coastal transformations had for fisher wellbeing (across genders and generations)?
  5. How have fishers reacted individually and collectively to coastal transformations?

The research is expected to produce a range of outputs, both academic and non-academic. Apart from a series of journal publications, we will produce research and policy briefs to be shared with global and national policy-makers.

WP1: Socio-ecological coastal transformation in changing institutional context

This WP aims to provide a bedding for the project, addressing sub-questions 1, 2 and 4, and creating a geospatial database into which the results from other WPs can be inserted. It focuses on the two Indian study sites, with historical and policy comparisons made with the UK, France, Slovenia and Norway.

Lead Partner: IFP/Nicolas Bautes

WP2: Trawl fisheries

This WP addresses the central research question on coastal transformation and its impact upon fisher wellbeing through the perspective of trawling. It focuses particularly on sub-questions 1, 3 and 4 concerning ‘government policy’, ‘changes in fisheries’ and ‘effects on wellbeing’, with sub-questions 2 and 5 playing a secondary role. It connects closely with WP4 (Migration), that also considers labour flows in and out of trawl fisheries and examines in particular how trawling impacts the small-scale fishing sector.

Lead Partner: UiT/Maarten Bavinck

WP3: Industralization

This WP focuses on governance and how changing forms of governance have facilitated the drive for industrialization and allied activities such as port development on the coast. It focuses on sub-questions 1, 2, 3 and 5 and will build on the outcomes of WP1 (especially the mapping of institutions and policy in India) to undertake a detailed analysis of how the political economy of governance has facilitated industrialization. It will examine governance at multiple scales: national, district and local, and assess its impacts on the wellbeing of coastal communities, and their responses (protests, competing claims, forms of brokerage).

Lead Partner: MIDS/Ajit Menon

WP4: Migration and labour mobility

This work package focuses on migration and changing labour relations, in response to changes within and outside fisheries over the last four decades. It builds on research in Tamil Nadu, India (funded by the Norwegian Research Council) and in East Anglia, UK. It focuses on coastal transformations from the perspective of migration and labour mobility, particularly sub-questions 2, 3, 4 and 5, on the ‘consequences of government policy’, ‘changes in fisheries’, ‘effects on wellbeing’, and ‘fisher responses’. It connects with WP2 (trawl fisheries), driving some of the visible labour flows in the study regions, and WP3 on industrialization.

Lead Partner: UEA/Nitya Rao

WP5: Heritage and imaginaries of the coast

This WP engages primarily with sub-questions 1 and 5 and links with WPs 3 and 4 on industrialization and migration. It focuses on the dynamics of heritage, the actors involved, the interrelations, negotiations and resistances between different heritage discourses and practices, and the effects of this on their wellbeing. The research will be undertaken in Slovenia, India, UK and France.

Lead Partner: SMI/Natasa Rogelja

WP6: Politics of policy making

This WP draws the thread together for purpose of synthesis and generalization. Research results from WPs 2-5 are fed into the geospatial database established by WP1, and analysed in this WP. Connections between trends and events in the different countries will be explored in this WP, with the main objective being to identify and bring together the broad implications of coastal transformations for spatial and socio-economic practices and wellbeing of fisher communities across India and selected European countries.

Lead Partner: MIDS/all WP leaders