5/20/2016 – Han Yang

The Last Day of Class

We are now less than 24 hours from St. Croix! Start packing and prepare for the vacation field research!

Today we had our last reading talking specifically about researching on St. Croix Island. The author lived in St. Croix for 20 month and provides her close observation and explains her concerns and methodology of doing the research. Although we only plan to stay for a week and surveying only local consumers and tourists, her experience on the island helps to prepare us better for the upcoming research. Since we are actually making people talk to us in an even shorter period.

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The fishery management in USVI has been a contentious topic. From previous readings we have already learned that fishermen’s knowledge are important for understanding the fishing community in order to achieve regulation of higher efficiency. However, McCaskey gives an example of how the fishermen’s voice is ignored. In 2008 the USVI government, under the pressure from environmental NGOs, ignored the fishermen’s proposal of partial use and decided to completely ban the use of gill and trammel nets that are used by some commercial fisher in St. Croix. It seems that the participation of fishermen in reality is impeded by other stakeholder groups. Therefore, it is not surprising that fishermen has a widespread mistrust of fishery managers and unwilling to give their opinions. But as far as what we have learned from Dr. Tookes, people on the island are generally nice and straightforward and our interviews should be totally feasible.

Living in the community made the local fisher used to McCaskey and she did informal interviews and participant observations before the semi-structured formal interviews. The concept of participant observation has been discussed in previous blogs. It allows us to better observe, analyze and understand the behaviors of the community. Therefore these methods we can adopt as we are doing surveys in the local community.

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Participant, and observation…huh?

The methods McCaskey used include purposive and snowball sampling. Purposive sampling, by name, is picking on the sample for certain purpose and snowball sampling is asking the interviewee for the next sample. Both are non-probability methods. Since she divided her interviewees by stakeholder groups and needed specific information from each group and the number of individuals in each group is so small, there is no need and no way to randomize her sampling. For us, we are only focusing on the consumer groups and are evaluating the willingness of consumers to pay for lionfish as a food source, and we would have a larger amount of target than she had. Therefore for unbiased data we need to randomize our pick, do random sampling and see how it works.

From the demographic information of interviewees McCaskey provides, all of the fisher participants are male and generally over 80% of the interviewees are male. This percentage should not be surprising for us since from previous readings we have learned the dominant role of male on boats. But along with the overwhelming proportion of male as fisher is the high percentage of female assisting in processing, selling and other relevant procedures, which is also notified in the reading. The average stay of these fishing industry related people on St. Croix is greater than 15 years, which reminds us again of the previous reading about the importance of understanding the structure of fishing community. Additionally, almost 100% of the fish caught at St. Croix is consumed locally. The sale of fish then forms a circulation of money that stabilizes the local economy, and that the fishing industry has both direct and indirect impacts the whole island not only economically but also socially and culturally. Therefore, local residents would be the largest and foremost group of consumers of lionfish. In this way we can better see the reason of surveying local residents about their preferences and acceptability of lionfish since we are seeking for the market approach to solve the lionfish problem.

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Please say lionfish are evil and yummy! No, not pretty…

The practice today we paired up in groups of two to interview people in Starbucks. Pairs generally make us feel better and maybe the interviewees too, especially we tell them that we are just practicing for our class. It also allows the recorder to write down the answers better and the interviewer to focus to make the conversation more fluent.  But it also cut our labor in half and the improvement in eye contact and efficiency is not as much as expected for the interviewer still need to look at their survey to keep track and read off the general statement. However, pair could be a backup plan and we will see how our interview goes when out there. Now the last thing left is to GO !

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