Commercial fishing is deeply embedded in the economy and culture of many coastal communities. Recent ecological, economic, and regulatory changes impacting fisheries are likely to have important consequences for this industry and the communities it supports. The objective of this study is to improve understanding of coastal community resilience through examination of the graying of the fleet phenomenon in two fishing communities in Oregon. This phenomenon has been studied extensively in Alaska, but little is known about this trend in the Pacific Northwest.
This study uses qualitative research methods to examine the occurrence of the graying of the fleet in Oregon, factors contributing to this phenomenon, and implications for the resilience of fishing communities. Findings indicate that community leaders do not perceive graying of the fleet as an issue of local concern. However, regulatory changes in the fishing industry that have contributed to changes in the structure of local fleets may obscure the full spectrum of social and economic consequences resulting from fisheries management decisions. Such changes may have negative implications for resilience should they diminish the amount of financial, cultural, and human capital in these communities. Greater understanding of the relationship between fisheries management policies and community resilience will enable those in fisheries management and policymaking arenas to make more informed choices that fully account for the broad range of consequences stemming from their decisions. This research will also help communities develop effective strategies to enhance resilience in the face of ongoing change.