This study is framed by the question: "Can improved public understanding and communication of science be a significant factor in facilitating sustainable management of the Baltic Sea fisheries?" Against the background of alarmingly declined fish stocks and to involve more voices into the Baltic sea governance process, the European Commission has established a Baltic Sea Regional Advisory Council (BS RAC), consisting of representatives of the fishing industry, Member States, and environmental groups. It is charged with providing advice to the Commission in a consensus report based upon data on the status and prognosis for the fisheries, provided by scientists. Both the process of consensus building and the use of scientific advice have been problematic. Programs to improve management of fisheries in other contexts have shown the importance of solid knowledge and an open dialogue between authorities, researchers and users. This study analyses the process by which information is communicated, understood and used through the focused observation of meetings and procedures and in-depth interviews with members of the BS RAC, ICES (International Council on Exploration of the Seas) as well as scientists, NGO representatives, and European Commission staff. It identifies areas and extent to which science understanding, communication and attitudes towards science of the fishing community and NGO’s from different Member States lead to conflict between representative groups in BS RAC and between the fishing community and scientists outside the RAC. We address not only the level and type of understanding of science issues by the RAC members, but also the understanding that scientists have of the fishing communities concerns and process on the seas. Based on identified obstacles and areas of conflict, we develop and apply strategies and methods which support the informed consensus building process and can become a model for other science-related governance matters.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science communication among stakeholders in the Baltic Seas Fisheries Governance Process

Christian Stöhr   Göteborg Center for Public Learning and Understanding of Science at Göteborg University and Chalmers Universtiy of Technology

Olga Stepanova   Göteborg Center for Public Learning and Understanding of Science at Göteborg University and Chalmers Universtiy of Technology

Sebastian Linke   Göteborg Center for Public Learning and Understanding of Science at Göteborg University and Chalmers Universtiy of Technology

Ilan Chabay   Göteborg Center for Public Learning and Understanding of Science at Göteborg University and Chalmers Universtiy of Technology

This study is framed by the question: "Can improved public understanding and communication of science be a significant factor in facilitating sustainable management of the Baltic Sea fisheries?" Against the background of alarmingly declined fish stocks and to involve more voices into the Baltic sea governance process, the European Commission has established a Baltic Sea Regional Advisory Council (BS RAC), consisting of representatives of the fishing industry, Member States, and environmental groups. It is charged with providing advice to the Commission in a consensus report based upon data on the status and prognosis for the fisheries, provided by scientists. Both the process of consensus building and the use of scientific advice have been problematic. Programs to improve management of fisheries in other contexts have shown the importance of solid knowledge and an open dialogue between authorities, researchers and users. This study analyses the process by which information is communicated, understood and used through the focused observation of meetings and procedures and in-depth interviews with members of the BS RAC, ICES (International Council on Exploration of the Seas) as well as scientists, NGO representatives, and European Commission staff. It identifies areas and extent to which science understanding, communication and attitudes towards science of the fishing community and NGO’s from different Member States lead to conflict between representative groups in BS RAC and between the fishing community and scientists outside the RAC. We address not only the level and type of understanding of science issues by the RAC members, but also the understanding that scientists have of the fishing communities concerns and process on the seas. Based on identified obstacles and areas of conflict, we develop and apply strategies and methods which support the informed consensus building process and can become a model for other science-related governance matters.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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