Fisheries are a complex mixture of social, political, economic, and biological aspects, and often biological or economic end goals are given priority in fisheries governance. However, there is a growing trend around the world to include non-economic social objectives in fisheries management schemes, e.g., supporting rural communities, increasing opportunities for newcomers or part-time fishermen, or providing equitable access for culturally and historically important fisheries. In Iceland, fisheries management has given biological and economic goals precedence over social goals, and there is no formal inclusion of a social science advisory body in the fisheries governance process. Non-economic social sciences such as geography, anthropology, sociology, and political science can add important information and considerations that in turn make fisheries more sustainable in the long run. In this paper, we explain the role of social science in fisheries governance, explore how social aspects are addressed in other fisheries governance schemes, and review highlights from fisheries social science research in Iceland. We hope to generate a meaningful conversation regarding the possibilities of a modern, pioneering fisheries governance process in Iceland where social, economic, and biological goals and research are given equal attention.
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