Uptake of proven bycatch reduction fishing gear: perceived best practices and the role of affective change readiness
This paper identifies, critiques, and offers suggestions for successful fisheries change initiatives to reduce bycatch. Through analysis of interviews and a workshop with fisheries change agents, we identified six themes. The first theme is that definitions of success varied between change initiatives. The other five themes relate to perceptions of best practices for change initiatives. They are the importance of (1) engaging diverse, motivated stakeholders in the initiative, in addition to fishers, (2) identifying and articulating clear benefits to fishers, (3) communicating with fishers early and throughout the initiative, particularly through face-to-face interactions and videos, (4) demonstrating positive change agent qualities, and (5) executing an appropriate and well-timed project. These best practices are widely recognized but have not consistently yielded widespread change. We hypothesize this is partly due to fisheries change agents being financially constrained, not measuring outcomes, and not having the proper training, such as knowledge of change management and human behaviour theories. We highlight one especially promising theory, change readiness, which includes cognitive and affective change readiness. We discuss the need to develop affective change readiness among fishers, given that change management research shows that emotions play an important role in the uptake of new ideas and changes.