Research Projects

Current Project | Subsistence fishing and urban political ecologies of risk & resilience

Subsistence fishing, defined as fishing that contributes to a person's food security and/or cultural well-being, has been severely understudied, particularly in urban areas. Yet, subsistence fishers are a potentially important component of urban marine and freshwater socioecological systems, exerting pressure on fisheries resources and deriving important nutritional and sociocultural value from the system. At the same time, fishers may be vulnerable to water quality and contamination concerns.

Our research is studying the extent and magnitude of subsistence fishing in the Tampa Bay Area and the resources available to this community (physical, ecological, informational, and nutritional). The purpose of the project is to improve the exchange of information between relevant management organizations, other recreational users of Tampa Bay, and the subsistence fishing community on issues such as conservation strategies, water quality, infrastructural and safety concerns at access points, and user conflicts around the region.

See our project website for more:

Typical mix of fish in a subsistence fisher's bucket.

Current Project | Community and environment in marine spatial planning

Screenshot from the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal, an example of the planning processes we're studying (

This project is being conducted in collaboration with researchers at Duke and Rutgers Universities. We are studying the emergence and ongoing processes of regional ocean planning in the US. We are broadly interested in better understanding two questions:

(1) How are communities and the environment being represented and engaged in ocean planning processes?

(2) And conversely, how are communities and the environment shaping the future of ocean planning itself?

We are exploring how different stakeholders, planning, and government groups interact with one another, how they work together toward a regional ocean plan, how new (and existing) data projects, products, and portals influence or guide regional ocean planning, and what beneficial outcomes for both the ocean environment and human communities could emerge. See our full project website here:

This project has been supported by the National Science Foundation’s Geography and Spatial Sciences Program, award nos. 1359943 and 1359805.

Past Project | Dynamics of recreational and commercial fishing conflicts

In this work, I examined the historical production of commercial and recreational fishing activities; contemporary relationships between different types of fishers and fishery resources; and the process of fisheries policymaking. In investigating fisheries discourses, I considered the ways that fishers and governing bodies constitute the nature and value of fish. Where these cultural politics matter most is in struggles over the purpose of different types of fish and the meaning of central concepts in fisheries management, as the outcomes have implications for both the practical use of resources and the character and scale of governing institutions.

In considering how socioeconomic factors underwrite fisheries conflicts, I also employ the concept of moral economy. Focusing particularly on how commercial and recreational fishers construct the purpose, value, and socio-natural place of ocean resources, I explored how different underlying moral economies can affect political negotiations and help explain particular resource-use narratives and practices.

Professor Boucquey conducting research with commercial fishermen in North Carolina