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Exploring Misfit: A case study of the northeast Atlantic mackerel
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The pressure of a growing and developing global human society creates environmental stresses that require collaborative management. Sudden and dramatic ecological changes can, however, impede such management by making social arrangements out of alignment with the ecosystem they were designed to manage. In sustainability science that failure is often referred to as a ‘misfit’. This thesis aims to add to our understanding of misfit by investigating what sparks misfits, and which causal mechanisms cause them to persist. To do that, a case study is used in which the geographical distribution shift of a marine species has produced a misfit, and a long-standing international conflict between stakeholders: the mackerel case. Since 2007 the northeast Atlantic mackerel stock started migrating and spawning towards more northern and western regions of the Nordic Seas, progressively going as far as Icelandic and south Greenlandic waters in the west. A misfit developed and endured because Iceland has not been included in the de facto management of the stock until this day. ‘Process-tracing’ is used to explain this outcome, i.e. to uncover the causal mechanisms behind the endurance of the misfit. The results show that the misfit persisted despite stakeholders recognizing its existence and making efforts to resolve it. The case study shows that an interaction of barriers to re-fitting, such as ‘absence of authority’, ‘politicization of scientific results’, ‘lack of trust’ etc., came into play at different points in time. Moreover, the results also demonstrate that misfit is dynamical, as it can enlarge or reduce through time. Some of the causal mechanisms that this study uncovered resonate with the literature on social-ecological misfit focusing on local and regional scales. Other causal mechanisms that were identified so far remained under-theorized in the literature. These mechanisms contributing to its endurance seem to be typical for misfits on international scales, i.e. absence of authority, interstate politics and influence of power imbalances (where powerful (coalitions of) actors are able to resist changes).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Misfit, international marine governance, fish migration, northeast Atlantic, mackerel
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-118803OAI: diva2:839373
Available from: 2015-07-13 Created: 2015-07-02 Last updated: 2015-07-13Bibliographically approved

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