Attributes of occupational categories
Nine different occupational categories were identified; businessmen (local entrepreneurs), farmers, middlemen and six occupational categories of fishermen (and women) defined based on primary gear type and fishing technique. Businessmen is a rather broad occupational category, which was defined based on a description by respondents of their livelihood as selling and/or buying any kind of goods such as food, groceries, building material and related services. Middlemen is the local term used for fishmongers, persons who buy fish from the fishermen directly at the landing sites and sell it on to a third party. Because their business is purely focused on fish they were distinguished from other businessmen. Furthermore, many middlemen were previously fishermen, a factor judged to potentially affect their LEK, wherefore they were separated as a distinct category. All fishing groups were defined by gear and respondents were included in each respective focus group category based on their reported primary occupation.
Focus groups were selected through interviews with the village chairman and fishermen at the local landing site in combination with validation of occupation among members of the community through data collected during a parallel study of social network(Crona and Bodin forthcoming). Due to his informal but central position, which provides him with in-depth knowledge of most households in the village, the chairman was approach and asked to identify as many persons as possible from each gear defined category. These persons were then approached at the local landing site and asked to further identify people from each category. All names were then cross-checked against the database on self-reported primary occupation gathered for the parallel study in an attempt to validate occupational membership. This was done as some fishermen may employ several techniques depending on season, although most will identify with one specific gear type when asked to state their primary occupation. From this list of names persons were then approach at random. For logistical reasons most often a captain was approached and asked to participate along with members of his crew. Most fishermen spend long hours out at sea and it became apparent that to gather random members of separate crews for each focus group was nearly impossible as each crew operate on their own schedule.
The interview set-up
The comparative advantages of individual versus group interviews vary depending on the purpose of the investigation. The use of focus groups in this study was motivated by several factors. First, focus groups provide interviewers with the ability to study interaction on a given topic, enhancing understanding of not only what participants think but also why they think this way (Morgan 1988). In this case I believed such interaction among fishermen in a group could lead to more elaborate, in depth information on ecosystem processes and could assist participants in formalizing their ideas. It also allowed me to observe group dynamics thereby evaluating to what extent captains potentially dominated the discussion. This appeared not to be the case wherefore results are judged to be representative of the entire group interviewed. Secondly, previous interaction among researchers, villagers and government officials in the area regarding management issues have shown that group discussion can be more productive than individual interviews as they enhance the confidence of individuals to speak their mind. Such lack of confidence may stem from the inherent hierarchical positioning of the researcher and the respondent in a one-on-one situation due to ethnic, cultural as well as educational differences. Focus groups reduce the interaction with the interviewer and puts greater emphasis on inter-group communication (Morgan 1988).
All focus group interviews were conducted using a moderator (a Kiswahili speaking male scientist knowledgeable with respect to the nature of local fishing operations, target species and ecological characteristics of the bay). The author (conversant in Kiswahili but not entirely fluent) introduced the objective and set-up of the interview in Kiswahili and was present throughout the interview to help guide the process and follow up on specific questions of interest. In addition a translator was present to translate and clarify any issue that was not entirely clear to the author. The same set-up was used for interviews with women but in these cases more emphasis was placed by the author (also a woman) on the introduction and objectives of the interview to encourage the women to share their views and instill confidence.
Below is outlined the semi-structured interview guideline used for all interviews in the study:
Q: Let me ask, are you all from this village? (Respondents were asked to state their names, where they live, and for how long)
Q: How long have you been fishing (farming, doing business etc) in this area?
Q: Could you tell me a little about how and why each of you became a fisherman? (The question was asked to give a brief personal history of each group member)
Depending on the answers this was followed up with...
Q: Is that a common way of entering the profession?
Q: Does this mean that your sons/children will become fishermen as well? (The question was asked to give an indication of a potential changes in traditions, knowledge transfer and young people moving from village)
Q: How will all the knowledge you have be passed on to younger generations?
Q: Do you feel confident that the knowledge will be kept this way?
Q: Is it important that such knowledge is maintained and passed on to younger generations?
Topic 1- Knowledge of species and ecological processes in the bay
Q: Did you get a good catch today? What did you catch?
Q: Do you always catch this type of fish? If not what else do you normally catch? (A discussion around a representative composition of catch in terms of different species)
Q: Respondents were asked to identify the 10-15 most important fish species they catch taking into consideration the anticipated price at sale, the perceived abundance and the proportional importance of the species to their daily catch.
Q: Out of these 10-15, which 5 species do you judge to be the most important (based on anticipated price at sale, the perceived abundance and the proportional importance of the species to their daily catch)?
Q: Could you explain to me how the catch changes over the course of the year, from season to season, fort each of these five taxa/species?
Q: For each of the 5 taxa/species:
At this point the group was asked to draw a rough map of the area together with the interviewer. Specific sites and characteristic features on the map were discussed to ensure that the interviewer’s perception of the area map agreed with the one held by the group. All group members were encouraged to get involved in the process. The map was then used to indicate primary target areas for the taxa/species identified in the previous questions.
Q: Do you use any bate when fishing? Where does it come from and how/why?
Q: Respondents were asked to identify 3 taxa/species of fish that they associate primarily with A) mangroves B) sea grass beds C) reefs.
(This question was used partly as a validation tool for knowledge of target species above but also as a measure of the how easily respondents of non-fisher categories could differentiate between fish taxa associated with different sub-systems of the coastal seascape)
Throughout the above discussion respondents were probed for clarifications and further explanations wherever appropriate and needed.
Q: Do shrimps come in the mangroves?
Q: If so why are they found in the mangroves?
Q: Are they big or small when they come in?
Q: Where (in the bay) are shrimps caught? Why?
Q: Where do they live? And why?
Q: Do they live their whole life there? Explain. (The question was asked to reveal knowledge of the crab life cycle).
Q: What do you think would happen if most of the mangroves around the bay were cut down? Would it have any effect on the fisheries? If so, how? Do you know of any other effects of mangrove deforestation?
Topic 2- Acknowledgment of changes in the ecosystem over time and understanding of ecological processes and links among components in the system
Q: You say you have been fishing in the area for X years, have you noticed any changes in the type of fish/shrimps/crabs you catch or the area where fish/shrimp/crabs are caught?
Using of the map drawn previously to explain changes and patterns the following questions were asked:
Q: Have you perceived any change in mangrove coverage over the years? A discussion about coverage before, during and after the change (historical events were used to place the change in time). Respondents were asked to explain the process of change by drawing a time line indicating patterns of increasing and decreasing coverage over time.
Q: Have you perceived any change in catches over the years? Respondents were asked to identify any changes in fish catches over time by drawing a time line (with assistance from the interviewer and moderator) and indicating patterns of increasing and decreasing catches over time.
Q: Can you tell me what you think may be the reason for this change?
Q: What solutions/actions can you suggest to improve the situation? (This was asked in order to further identify coupled social-ecological knowledge and ideas, i.e. recognition of institutional/organizational change needed for resource management)
Throughout the above discussion specific questions to follow up issues of importance were incorporated under each topic.
Crona, B. I., and Ö. Bodin. forthcoming. What you know is who you know? Patterns of communication as prerequisites for co-management. Ecology and Society.
Morgan, D. L. 1988. Focus groups as qualitative research. Sage Publications Inc., Beverly Hills, CA.