Happiness, well-being and psychocultural adaptation to the stresses associated with marine fishing

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The purpose of this paper is to develop a heuristic model to account for the attachment that many particularly successful fishermen seem to have to their occupation. It is argued here that the relatively risky nature of the occupation of fishing attracts and holds individuals manifesting an active, adventurous, aggressive, and courageous personality; hence, these risky components of the job have a positive influence on their levels of happiness. There is more to fishing than money. What other occupation is reflected in a popular recreational activity like marine sport fishing? It takes one into a different environment, away from shore-based activities and allows participants to become involved in the thrill of the hunt, pitting ones' luck and skill against others as well as against elusive prey hidden beneath the water. As a consequence, some fishermen resist leaving the occupation even when economic returns suggest they should. The paper first develops a heuristic human ecology model that illustrates relationships between aspects of the physical, political, and social environments that generate stress among commercial fishermen. The model is then elaborated to include psychological, biobehavioral, technological, ideological and social adaptations that mediate between the stress causing variables and the individual fisherman, reducing or eliminating the stress. A possible genetic component is also discussed. The model is discussed in terms of its application to fisheries management in New England and elsewhere. © Society for Human Ecology.

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Human Ecology Review