Seven different occupational categories were identified; businessmen (local entrepreneurs), middlemen and five occupational categories of fishermen 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. Those respondents who did not qualify into any of the above categories were classified as “Others”. This category included basically all activities that did not sort under the above mentioned categories and ranged from driving local taxis and commuting buses to washing clothes or doing temporary construction work. This division was based on the assumption that people trading services are likely to be more decoupled from the natural resource base. A small number of categories were represented by only one individual but were judged to be sufficiently influential in the community and thus distinguished (e.g. medicine man, chairman, sub-chief). The category “Unknown” included individuals that were either not interviewed, retired or could not be classified.
A semi-structured interview guideline was used based on the approach described by Morgan (1998) and is presented below.
Q: Let me ask, are you all from #village name#? (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?
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.
Morgan, D. L. 1998. Planning Focus Groups. Sage Publications Inc., London.