During the middle of September 2010 I traveled to Fogo Island, Newfoundland in order to conduct a series of interviews with locals in an attempt to measure community resilience on the island. The original aim of my research was to use the communities on Fogo Island as a case study for how to sustain and develop community resilience in fisheries resource dependent outports that are or will be facing major changes to the fisheries they depend on.
Currently the communities on the island are in the middle of major social changes – they are going to have a centralized municipal government for the first time in their history instead of having representatives from each community, and they are seeing changes occur due to the investments of time and money from two organizations. The Shorefast Foundation is a charitable organization that is partnering with and supporting the people of Fogo Island as they invest in ways to revitalize their economy in the face of ongoing changes to the North Atlantic fisheries (www.shorefast.org). The Fogo Island Arts Corporation is a contemporary art venue housed in several studios that aims to make Fogo Island and the Change Islands internationally visible through the arts (http://artscorpfogoisland.ca/).
Due to the input from these two organizations, the communities are no longer typical outports. Most small fishing villages do not have this type of non-governmental financial and social support and this meant the communities of Fogo Island may no longer be ideal case studies for other fisheries dependent outports. Since I was on Fogo Island, and because the people were so generous with their time, ideas and thoughts about their future, I knew that I wanted this place to remain the focus of my research. I was able to talk with people at both the Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation (who so kindly showed me inside the beautiful Long Studio), and with locals and determined that I could still look at social sustainability on Fogo Island. But instead of attempting to measure it, I will instead attempt to help promote and build it by developing a geotourism plan for Fogo Island as described by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations (http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable/about_geotourism.html).
Amanda Barney is a second year graduate student at the School of Marine Affairs and a Canadian Studies Affiliate at the Jackson School working with Professor Marc L. Miller. She currently returned from a research trip to her native Newfoundland where she got to explore Fogo Island for the first time.