Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Seth Macinko


Although fisheries management decisions impact people and places, multiple drivers of change are at play in coastal communities. Moreover, the interactions among those drivers, whether they build upon or offset one another, are where the action lies. While interested in the changes brought about by the imposition of transferable catch shares, this research takes a holistic approach to studying coastal communities. This study focuses on instances of transition from a greater presence of the fishing industry to new configurations of fisheries, maritime sectors, and tourism. Situated in places in the midst of such change, the work clarifies what fisheries dependence represents and its various iterations.

Through three case studies in Northern Jutland, Denmark and three analogous cases in New England, United States this research explores how various coastal communities navigate change. I detail the experiences of place-based communities in these two regions with special attention to those historically linked to fishing, but whose orientations have been changing over the past few decades. Based on 54 interviews with 63 persons and field observations while in these two regions, the research takes an inductive approach, open to the themes and discourses brought forth by research participants in relation to fisheries and change in their communities and related societies. The qualitative analysis of interview transcripts and field notes illuminated varying relationships that place-based communities have to fishing and the varied opportunities and challenges facing coastal communities.

One of the key findings of this research is the demonstration of existential fisheries dependence, whereby the presence of fishing sustains certain coastal communities that have few or no alternatives, keeping them on the map, so to speak. Physical geography and built infrastructure heavily influence this designation and reveal important considerations for management changes regarding fisheries access. In cases where communities and ports have diversified to other activities, often connections to fisheries remain because of the development of service ports. Moreover, the uncertainty in regard to the future level of engagement of fisheries has implications for waterfront land use planning and community identity.

Development of new industries and the process of diversification may also span longer timelines, affecting certain segments of the community more severely than others. In addition, the transition to tourism dependence holds a somewhat precarious future for coastal communities in temperate areas. In some cases, heritage and community identity remain strongly connected to the surviving fishing industry, but the diminished presence of fishing also translates to feelings of loss and can challenge communities that hope to retain a year-round population when the tourists head home. Consequently, how a society manages fisheries impacts coastal communities ranging in size and opportunities outside of fisheries. Moreover, the cultural and social importance of fisheries demonstrates a key facet of fisheries dependence.



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