Negotiating knowledge and nature in Scottish salmon management
This thesis investigates critically constructions of, and responses to, the declining number of salmon returning annually to Scottish rivers. The focus of the research is on four related empirical topics: quantification of salmon; hatcheries and the stocking of rivers; predation of salmon by humans and animals; and Scotland's salmon management system. These topics are studied through the concepts of 'knowledge' and 'nature', following similar work in cultural geography and science studies. The research is based on a series of semi-structured interviews, guided site visits and participant observation. It also draws on responses to consultation papers, scientific research on salmon and angling literature. A reflexive approach to the research is maintained. The apparent decline of salmon stocks is often understood through quantitative calculations. During quantification, individual caught fish are transformed into numerical representations that are combined with those of other fish from around Scotland. These individual fish come to represent the Scottish national catch of salmon. Discussions of salmon stocks blur boundaries between 'scientific' and 'local' knowledges, as anglers and salmon managers freely combine national statistics with their own experimental knowledge. Three of the most significant responses to the salmon's decline are: the use of hatcheries; the imposition of management measures such as catch-and-release angling; and the control of animal predators of salmon. The thesis studies the acceptance of different animals and practices as 'appropriate' in various contexts. In discussing the stocking of rivers, perceptions of 'wildness' are key to the acceptance of hatchery-reared fish. In the conclusion, the thesis calls for a more symmetrical understanding of relationships between humans and animals, and 'scientific' and 'local' knowledges.