Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Ecotheology Issue 8 January 2000

Religious Responses to Fisheries Decline in Irish Coastal Communities with a Comparison to the Pacific Northwest Region, USA

Shawn Hinz, Susan Power Bratton
Issued Date: 4 Mar 2007


Worldwide, there is great concern for the depletion of commercial fish stocks (FAO 1997; Le Sann 1998). Much academic ethical analysis of fisheries has been based on Garrett Hardin’s ‘tragedy of the commons’—a simple model of human behavior that concludes: ‘individuals locked into the logic of the commons are free only to bring universal ruin’ (Hardin 1968; de Steiguer 1997; Baden and Noonan 1998). Fishing management has integrated Hardin’s presuppositions into policy design, thereby assuming all fishers are self-profit maximizers, who are inveterate free riders, unaware of conservation. Recently, anthropologists have drawn attention to the dynamics of small, traditional fishing communities, many of which have existed for centuries without collapsing the populations of harvested species, and all of which have some form of indigenous environmental regulation (McGoodwin 1990; Cordell 1989; Dyer and McGoodwin 1994; Pinkerton and Weinstein 1995). This work points to two important deficiencies in the religious environmental ethics literature—relatively little is known about: (1) how specific communities or trades develop an ‘environmental ethic’; and (2) how religious practice and belief respond to changing environmental concerns in industrialized cultures.

DOI: 10.1558/ecotheology.v5i1.1798


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