Experiences and Knowledge Sharing for building strong and maintain collaborations between fishery observers and the fishing community

Funded by the MAVA Foundation Learning & Sharing Grant, a collective project seeked to understand how collaborations between fishers and observers of the MAVA-funded MedBycatch project were formed. Fishers’ and observers’ feedback were gathered for their experiences of working together, the challenges faced and how these were overcome, the success stories and what they viewed as key actions or behaviours the contributed to forming relations of trust.

It is widely acknowledged that building relations of trust between fishers and observers is hard. Some fishers provided their thoughts as to why this is the case:

• That the research focus is limited to only the environment – ‘Nature is important for us, we make our money from sea, sustainability is important but the priority is always the environment and no one thinks about the fishermen’

• Fishers feel like they are data providers only – ‘…….many surveys being conducted before [and the] results of the conducted surveys not being reported to the fishermen [and] nothing changing

So acknowledging the amazing job that the observers have done in the field, with over 3,600 on onboard observations and over 12,100 port-based questionnaires have been achieved in over 42 ports across the Mediterranean in the duration of the MedBycatch Observer Programme (2018 – 2022), feedback was gathered through workshops and questionnaires from Morocco, Tunisia and Türkiye from 60 fishers and 45 observers. The information was collated and summarised in a report (available in Arabic, English, French and Turkish) and the outputs for best practices for forming relations of trust were incorporated into an infographic (also available in Arabic, English and Turkish).

A video entitled Salt in the Eyes was also produced showcasing good examples of collaboration, with four interviews of fishers and observers from Tunisia and Türkiye. It also provides a personal insight for the motivations of fishers and observers for the work they do and their shared love of the sea.

All materials produced under the framework of this learning project and from the MedBycatch project which provide information, tools and other videos for building strong collaborations wth fishers have been compiled into a Knowledge Shared Package in a Google Drive folder, which is available to everyone here.


Tunisian National Observer Team © 2021 Dorra MAAOUI-SPA_RAC

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