Natalie Ross

Postgraduate Researcher

BSc (Hons) Geography (Edinburgh), 2000
MSc Environmen
tal Sustainability (Edinburgh), 2007

Centre for Rural Economy
School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Newcastle University
NE1 7RU

 

natalie.ross@ncl.ac.uk

 


Supervisors

Mr Jeremy Phillipson, Dr Elizabeth Oughton (University of Newcastle); Mr Sasha Maguire (the Scottish Government)

Thesis Title

Exploring notions of fisheries ‘dependency’ and ‘community’ in Fraserburgh, the Outer Hebrides and Shetland to inform social objectives in fisheries policy

Profile

As a doctoral human geographer with a background in Scottish Government policy and parliamentary practice my expertise is in understanding the relationships between policy and academia. My publications on the social and cultural aspects of fisheries stem from collaborative research with the Scottish Government and also with Defra. I am a strong ethnographic fieldworker, having carried out in-depth interviews and participant observation, and thematic and content analysis of qualitative data at doctoral, MSc and BSc level. I am also trained in mixed methods research including GIS techniques and statistical analysis.

Prior to PhD research I worked on national fisheries and flooding policy at the Scottish Government, analysing and developing fisheries policy in response to the 2009 reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, and organising stakeholder events and workshops for the 2008 Flood Risk Management Bill consultation process. I have also held several posts in community education, teaching and international exchange. These include recruiting and training volunteers for the City of Edinburgh Council as an outreach officer for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; creating a curriculum of global education for Japanese high school students on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme; and successfully incorporating key players to facilitate a rural development project in Zambia.

My doctoral research is sponsored by the ESRC and the Scottish Government.

Research

My research at Newcastle concerns the rethink of priorities within Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), based on evidence surrounding the worsening state of Europe’s fish stocks and increasing social and economic problems in coastal towns and villages across Scotland. There is a growing argument that the biological priorities of Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy are not a straightforward solution to the problems currently facing international fisheries management and that social objectives need to be incorporated into policy. However, existing notions of fisheries ‘dependency’ and ‘community’, as labels that currently pervade fisheries management, remain poorly understood and leave decision-makers struggling to address social and cultural issues. By investigating notions of fisheries ‘dependency’ and ‘community’ with people affected by fisheries management decisions in Scotland, this research highlights some of the key concerns facing coastal communities to inform social objectives in fisheries policy.

Qualitative data drawn from in-depth interviews and participant observation in the three case study areas of Fraserburgh, the Outer Hebrides and Shetland suggest that fisheries ‘dependency’ extends from a family’s income to the importance of fishing identity and heritage, whilst ideas of ‘community’ are complex and multiple. In Fraserburgh, grief and empathy created within the fishing industry through people being lost at sea emerge as important factors in defining and binding people together. In the Outer Hebrides and Shetland the shared experience of living in remote and geographically isolated areas brings people together into ‘island’ communities. However, there are significant differences in community practices between the inshore fishing businesses of the Outer Hebrides, and Shetland with its self-regulating shellfish industry and large whitefish and pelagic vessels. The controversies that arise at the interface between the current constitutional set up of fisheries management and the heterogeneous nature of the fishing ‘community’ suggest that understandings of fisheries ‘dependency’ need to take into account the strength of attachment to fishing as a positive identity and the substantial level of commitment to the fishing industry that people show. Rather than attempting to shift people out of fishing, steps might be taken to support the strong social and business networks linked to the industry and increase flexibility within fisheries management to accommodate the complexities of the fishing ‘community’.

Publications

Ross N. (2013) Exploring concepts of fisheries ‘dependency’ and ‘community’ in Scotland. Marine Policy (37): 55-61.

Reed M. Courtney P. Urquhart J. Ross N. (2012) Beyond fish as commodities: Understanding the socio-cultural role of inshore fisheries in England. Marine Policy http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2012.04.009

Selected Conference Papers and Seminars

May 2012. Challenging the rhetoric around stakeholder engagement and responsibility: informing concepts of fisheries ‘dependency’ and ‘community’ in Scotland. School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Postgraduate PhD Conference, Newcastle University.

May 2012. Informing Social Objectives in Fisheries Policy: ‘Dependency’ and ‘Community’ in Scotland (poster presentation). 6th World Fisheries Congress: Sustainable Fisheries in a Changing World. Edinburgh.

March 2012. Informing Social Objectives in Fisheries Policy: ‘Dependency’ and ‘Community’ in Scotland. Pan-SAC Research Seminar, Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh.

July 2011. Exploring the social objectives and impacts of UK fisheries policy: Insights from Scotland. MARE Conference: People and the Sea VI: Bridging science and policy for sustainable coasts and seas. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

April 2011. Exploring the social objectives and impacts of UK fisheries policy: Preliminary Findings from Fraserburgh. “It’s Not Just About the Fish”: Social and Cultural Perspectives of Sustainable Marine Fisheries. University of Greenwich, London.

April 2011. Beyond the Surf: the Value of the Socio-cultural Offer of Inshore Fisheries. “It’s Not Just About the Fish”: Social and Cultural Perspectives of Sustainable Marine Fisheries. University of Greenwich, London.

September 2010. Channels of influence – exploring the connections between inshore fishing and the surrounding community. RGS-IBG Annual International Conference: Confronting the challenges of the post crisis global economy and environment. London.