Story 3: Sweden (Fisheries and Conservation)

Story 3: Trawling in the Koster-Väderö fjord (Sweden)

The Koster-Väderö fjord  is located off Sweden’s northwest coast, in a corner of the Skagerrak Strait dividing Sweden and Norway from Denmark. The fjord is home to Sweden’s highest diversity of marine life: between 5,000-6,000 species are thought to be found there, including 200 animal species and nine algae species unique to the area. After years of conflict, negotiation and collaboration between authorities and stakeholders, including members of local fishing communities, resulted in the area becoming the first marine National Park, called ‘Kosterhavets’, declared under Swedish law in September 2009.

There were several proposals on marine protected areas, put forward by the authorities and nature conservation groups. In the beginning, strong conflicts with fishers were encountered, including demonstrations and arguments in media. The local fishery occupies around 50 fishers in 30 boats (10 – 26 meter). Their main fear was that they would be excluded from their fishing areas. A participatory process was initiated by the provincial government, and eventually an agreement was reached between fishers, their organisations, the fishery authority, the provincial government and the local communities.  A co-management project was initiated and developed from 2005-2008.

The long participatory process was crucial for the resolution of this conflict. Comprehensive stakeholder identification was important, as was the fact that overall principles were agreed by the authorities. Terms such as MPA, reserves and sustainable fishery were defined in a shared process, and fishery legislation was used rather than conservation legislation. A steering group was set up and goals agreed upon, as well as methods and roles. An inventory phase, was followed by a dialogue and negotiation, and finally an agreement phase. The last and ongoing phases are follow up, including education and initiating a fishery and co-management initiative.

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