The voices that matter: A narrative approach to understanding Scottish Fishers' perspectives of Brexit

Giulia Agnisola, Stephanie Weir, Kate Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This paper presents the results of a dive into the views of Scottish fishers towards the Brexit process. The failure of fisheries management by the EU and its Common Fisheries Policy was a key argument used by the Leave Campaign. This was seemingly supported by the Scottish fishing industry, as declared by the powerful voices in national representative bodies. Using semi-structured interviews with 12 individuals representing the industry, the study sets out to give voice to less powerful narratives and to understand the nuances of their reasons for voting to leave. The research suggests a truer story of the fishing industry's perspective of Brexit is constituent of three parts. First, that despite the unified view portrayed in media and by industry representatives, there are clear disparities in their voices and their reasoning. These are particularly evident between sector and non-sector fishers. Second, there are parallels within the narratives that demonstrated a feeling of betrayal and othering symptomatic of the ‘left behind’. Third, both the disparities and parallels are fed by shared misconceptions of a past that has been reimagined to justify past and future decisions. This research indicates that attitudes to complex social events are often fed by mythologies and forced narratives espoused by powerful voices, whilst weaker voices are ignored. This does not preclude the value of fishers' experiences and attitudes and, instead, demonstrates the importance of listening to all voices for effective policy making to ensure future proposals do not only reflect the needs of the most vocal.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103563
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date13 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Attitudes research
  • Brexit
  • Fisheries management
  • Narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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