Small-scale fisheries are a key source of cultural, natural, and social heritage in coastal communities across the Northeast Atlantic. To support a more holistic understanding of the true value of small-scale fisheries, CABFishMan has developed a tool to define and estimate the value of heritage factors across the region. Undertaken as part of our Fisheries’ Natural and Cultural Heritage work stream, the work presents opportunities to determine best-practice in sharing and preserving key elements of heritage.

The ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ heritage of SSF
Whether you live in, or have ever travelled around, coastal regions you are almost certain to have witnessed some form of cultural expression derived from small-scale fisheries (SSF). Some are self-evident, or ‘tangible’: fishing boats arriving at the harbour, or a famous painting of fishers at work. Others are abstract, or ‘intangible’: traditional tales of a mermaid causing a terrible wreck, or ancient methods of creating and using certain types of fishing gear passed down through generations. The heritage derived from fisheries is hugely diverse, and prevails in many different forms.

The European Atlantic area treasures multiple forms of cultural heritage from SSF. This heritage is part of what contributes to a strong sense of place and community, and increases the well-being derived by coastal communities. To make the most of this rich heritage, however, we must start by valuing it.

As part of our Fisheries’ Natural and Cultural Heritage work stream, CABFishMan researchers have created a systematic way of estimating this value: a geographical inventory of SSF cultural heritage. Rather than simply listing the many forms of cultural heritage, the inventory is underpinned by a robust methodology for their valuation – a step that is crucial to recognising and strategically determining the use, transmission, and preservation of cultural heritage.

Behind the inventory: The making of
A multidisciplinary team gathered data on SSF cultural heritage in France, Ireland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Spain. A total of 1,233 references and documents were registered, including printed materials, films and videos, web pages, inventories, leaflets, and posters. All the documents were allocated to a specific geographical scale, using small regions recognised at the European Union level (more info on the geographical scale of our research can be found here).

The entries in the dataset were classified according to three groups of ‘tags’. A general ‘tag’ indicated the type of heritage listed (natural, cultural tangible or intangible), and the country from which it derives. To ensure that the research contributes to international efforts to catalogue heritage, the second ‘tag’ aligned with categories of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designation, from oral traditions and expressions to knowledge and traditional craftsmanship. Eight thematic types were then used to allow us to reflect on the nuances within these categories. Doing so allowed for distinctions to be drawn between diverse heritage sources which provide similar societal contributions – for example, local cuisine and traditional music may provide the same cultural benefit, but may be very different to each other!

The dataset was then analysed using a robust methodology: factor analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis, and discriminant analysis. You are welcome to dig into the details for each technique in the full report (see below). Familiarise yourself with the different heritage types found in the region, particularly the commonalities and distinctions between SSF cultural heritage across the Atlantic Arc!


An online link for the CABFishMan Geotool will be added in due course. The full report detailing our research and methodology can be accessed below.

Read the full report