Multi-level governance and biosphere stewardship
Room 33 (30)
11:00 - 11:40
Chair/s:
Vanessa Masterson
How opiate addiction in a co-managed fishery threatens social-ecological resilience: An ethnographic study of shellfishing in Maine
Bridie McGreavy
Department of Communication & Journalism University of Maine, Orono, United States
New England Sustainability Consortium, Orono, United States
National surveys in the United States indicate that approximately 21.5 million adults struggle with substance use disorders. This is a pressing issue of human well-being in the State of Maine which is currently experiencing an opiate epidemic and where northern “downeast” coastal regions have one of the highest rates of overdose deaths in the United States, with 20 deaths per 100,000 residents per year. Studies of addiction generally focus on social causes and effects; thus the relationship between this pervasive social problem, ecosystems, and governance is not well understood. This study describes complex relationships between substance use disorders, intertidal ecosystems, and a shellfish co-management system. I share results from a four-year ethnographic project, drawing from participant observations within municipal shellfish programs and interviews with clammers, regulators, marine law enforcement officers, municipal and state officials, and shellfish dealers (n=41).

This research documents the ways in which substance use disorders, and opiate addiction in particular, negatively affect the resilience of Maine clamming communities. Thematic analysis of transcripts and texts reveal multiple factors that influence clammers’ risks for opiate addiction. Conservative estimates indicate 20% of licensed clammers suffer from opiate addiction, with much higher rates of other substance use disorders. Physical strain and injury from clamming, especially to the neck, shoulders, and lower back, is a key risk factor. This risk is compounded by unsustainable management practices which deplete clams from softer intertidal substrates and force clammers into rockier substrates. Further, substance use disorders constrain adaptive capacities by reducing the number of volunteers who can effectively participate in conservation activities and increasing social exclusion and negative conflict at municipal shellfish meetings. I describe complex ways in which substance use disorders affect the resilience of this fishery and conclude with recommendations for meaningfully addressing this issue within coastal communities and natural resource co-management systems.

Presenter/s:
Bridie McGreavy
Presentation type:
Oral communication
Room:
Room 33 (30)
Chair/s:
Vanessa Masterson
Date:
Tuesday, 22 August
Time:
11:00 - 11:40
Session times:
11:00 - 11:40