In a food-limited urban environment, policy can improve or exacerbate existing inequalities in access to natural resources. While urban marine subsistence fishers in the United States (US) commonly provision their diets using local fish, little is known about how local policy relates to subsistence fisher vulnerability and existing socioeconomic disadvantage. Further, it is unclear how US state agencies consider subsistence fisher practices or vulnerabilities in urban planning or biomonitoring. Data mismatches may prevent urban subsistence fishers from accessing adequate fisheries resources and making informed dietary choices, potentially leading to unhealthy fish consumption practices. We evaluated potential mismatches between marine subsistence fishing practices, fisheries policy, and urban planning by conducting a transdisciplinary synthesis of recreational fisheries surveys, fish biomonitoring data, socioeconomic data, and planning policy documents from New Orleans, Louisiana (US) and Tampa, Florida (US). Urban subsistence fishers represent a heterogeneous community whose diverse fishing practices were inadequately integrated into public policies. Further, we found an association between increased fishing levels and neighbourhood disadvantage. This misalignment between policy and practice may introduce unknown health risks for subsistence fishers. We make recommendations for broadening fisher characterization to include non-tribal subsistence fishing, utilizing more social science approaches in developing subsistence fishing policy, integrating fishing practices in urban policy and planning decisions, and increasing communication across agencies concerning policies affecting urban fishers.
Read the full article in Environmental Science & Policy.