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Fishing vessel

Fishing for solutions: community economy and sustainable coastal development in Sweden

Research project
Pågående forskning
Project period
2018 - 2021
Project owner
School of Global Studies

Short description

How can we create sustainable local economies in coastal communities? This research project is based on the initiative Östersjöfiske 2020, which was established by Simrishamn Municipality in southeast Sweden. The aim is to investigate how researchers can work together with commercial fishers and local communities to produce scientific knowledge and strengthen socio-economic initiatives for sustainable development.

Background and research aims

The research project is about the potential for integrating social, economic, and environmental sustainability in Swedish fishing villages on the Baltic Sea and other coastal communities. It focuses on how to connect community-based visions to state agencies, institutional actors, and official policies. We use the case of the ‘Östersjöfiske 2020’ initiative in Simrishamn as our case study. Östersjöfiske 2020 is an example of a 'community economy', in the sense that the initiative starts with the needs of the community and the local environment rather than the national level.

The project work with local stakeholders to investigate and assess the conditions that hinder or support integrating the community into regional and state planning and sustainable development. We hope to co-explore and co-create place-based knowledge to foster maritime landscapes and cultural heritage that revalorize local fishing practices for sustainable development and to co-produce a strategic plan to promote the long-term integration of Östersjöfiske 2020 into state-centered planning and development. 

We think that community economies have the transformative capacity to reverse patterns of environmental, social, and economic degradation that are the result of non-local, large-scale forces steering local outcomes for non-local actors. What does it actually take to achieve sustainable development, and what are the processes needed to get there? These are urgent questions for our time. As social scientists, initiatives such us Östersjöfiske 2020, their future, and challenges are at the heart of our research for sustaining and fostering societal well-being.

Östersjöfiske 2020 is an innovative effort to not only respond to the degrading conditions for coastal fishers but also to change them. We would like to be part of this process, to document and investigate, but also to lend our own skills, creativity, and experience in service of local goals. We believe that the research will help other coastal fishing communities to articulate their needs and forward their goals for sustainable development, including by connecting their visions to state and institutional actors. We also think that our research will shed light on Sweden’s efforts to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals.


Milena Arias Schreiber

Maris Gillette

Sebastian Linke