Collaborative Sustainable Innovation

co-designing small-scale fisheries governance approaches

Drawing from the past to imagine the future – the Donegal Islands

My first field trip for this project was a short 3 day visit to the Donegal Islands last November. It was a bumpy start as the small plane from Dublin to Donegal took off and landed in fairly windy conditions at Carrickfinn Airport. A fisherman I already knew from a previous research project had arranged meetings with some of Donegal Islands fishermen during my stay. As a researcher who spends a lot of time talking and listening to people in small coastal communities, I am always hugely appreciative of the time people give me. My time is usually funded. Most of the time, theirs is not. Before I arrived, the fishermen asked my contact “What does she want to talk to us about?”. “I don’t really know”, he said, “and to be honest with you, I don’t think she really knows at this stage either”. It’s always difficult to convey to people what I want to do in this initial stage of the research – open listening is not something we’re used to, and a researcher is supposed to have questions she wants answered. Even though I’ve been doing this kind of research for more than 10 years now, I’m still nervous about these initial meetings. What if they don’t have anything to say to me? At the same time, experience tells me that it doesn’t take long for people to find the stories they want to tell me. I start from there. (more…)