Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Behavioural diversity in fishing-Towards a next generation of fishery models

Wijermans, Nanda; Boonstra, Wiebren J.; Orach, Kirill; Hentati-Sundberg, Jonas; Schluter, Maja


Despite improved knowledge and stricter regulations, numerous fish stocks remain overharvested. Previous research has shown that fisheries management may fail when the models and assessments used to inform management are based on unrealistic assumptions regarding fishers' decision-making and responses to policies. Improving the understanding of fisher behaviour requires addressing its diversity and complexity through the integration of social science knowledge into modelling. In our paper, we review and synthesize state-of-the-art research on both social science's understanding of fisher behaviour and the representation of fisher decision-making in scientific models. We then develop and experiment with an agent-based social-ecological fisheries model that formalizes three different fishing styles. Thereby we reflect on the implications of our incorporation of behavioural diversity and contrast it with the predominant assumption in fishery models: fishing practices being driven by rational profit maximizing. We envision a next generation of fisheries models and management that account for social scientific knowledge on individual and collective human behaviours. Through our agent-based model, we demonstrate how such an integration is possible and propose a scientific approach for reducing uncertainty based on human behavioural diversity in fisheries. This study serves to lay the foundations for a next generation of social-ecological fishery models that account for human behavioural diversity and social and ecological complexity that are relevant for a realistic assessment and management of fishery sustainability problems.


agent-based modelling; decision-making; fisher behaviour; fishing styles; literature review; social-ecological systems

Published in

Fish and Fisheries
2020, volume: 21, number: 5, pages: 872-890
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Wijermans, Nanda
Stockholm Univ
Boonstra, Wiebren J.
Stockholm Univ
Orach, Kirill
Stockholm Univ
Hentati-Sundberg, Jonas (Hentati Sundberg, Jonas)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Schluter, Maja
Stockholm Univ

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Aquacultural Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)