As a social scientist who studies fisheries management and coastal communities, I recognize that the decisions on allocation of marine resources and their enduring legacies can favor and disfavor certain groups and places. A central question in my work is whether coastal communities can fill the void created by diminished fishing opportunities, either by collectively resisting concentration and consolidation or by transitioning to other sectors. Although fisheries management decisions impact communities, multiple drivers of change are at play. Moreover, the interactions among those drivers, whether they build upon or offset one another, are where the action lies. I have investigated different manifestations of fisheries dependence and the concept of transition in coastal communities. I am particularly interested in coastal communities that are also considered rural and face challenges in terms of resident mobility. In this connection, I reflect on how my research on fisheries dependence and transition demonstrate shared struggles with the neoliberal turn in planning and natural resource policy.
Currently, I am appointed as Assistant Professor at Aalborg University’s Department of Planning, where I am member of the Center for Innovative Fisheries Management. I completed dual doctoral degrees in 2016 from the University of Rhode Island and Aalborg University. In my dissertation, I investigated different manifestations of fisheries dependence and the concept of transition in coastal communities. Through interviews, community visits, and participant observation in six case studies in Northern Jutland, Denmark and New England, United States, I examined the diverse trajectories of communities operating under diminished fishing access and isolated opportunities and challenges based on physical and human geography. The cases illuminated various adaptations, but pointed to a shared struggle among the communities to fill the vacuum of reduced fishing opportunities. From this research, I concluded that although the share of fisheries activities has declined, the cases give evidence to the importance of fisheries for service ports, peripheral communities, and those combining fisheries heritage and tourism. Two of the key tensions I uncovered in my research were: (a) the notion of authenticity in fisheries heritage tourism when the fishing industry is no longer active and, (b) whether tourism can sustain remote coastal communities where weather and mobility significantly vary by season.
While I examined local impact in my dissertation, as scholars investigating maritime activities and society’s connections to the marine environment recognize, scale and nested governance are paramount in the field. Beyond local and regional development, I have worked at national and international scales. I have investigated the question of regionalization and stakeholder participation in the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy and Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Presently, I contribute to the EU Horizon 2020 project, MERCES, identifying philosophical underpinnings of marine ecosystem restoration to inform the scaling up of governance for marine restoration from demonstration sites to European regional seas. Starting in 2018, I will participate in another EU Horizon 2020 project on coastal and maritime cultural heritage. In addition, I teach in the Geography program at Aalborg University at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.
UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA
Ph.D. in Marine Affairs (dual degree)
AALBORG UNIVERSITY, Aalborg, Denmark
Ph.D. in Planning (dual degree)
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, Evanston, Illinois, USA
B.S., Social Policy; Economics (minor)