Responsibilisation in fish habitat rehabilitation and stewardship

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Neoliberal thought has influenced how government policy is crafted, resulting in a stepping away by government in the implementation of policy solutions, and an ever-growing list of non-state actors enlisted to advance environmental policy agendas. The actions of these non-state actors are positioned as integral to solving environmental policy challenges such as habitat rehabilitation. Drawing on the theory of responsibilisation as a technique of governance this research explores the ways fisheries stewardship policy seeks to mobilise non-state actors to accept responsibility for addressing environmental problems which have previously been the responsibility of the State. Dvora Yanow’s approach to interpretive policy analysis is used to analysis key policy artefacts to identify the discursive strategies used to attribute blame for fish habitat degradation and responsibility for rehabilitation actions in an Australian state. This research uncovers a tension between the attribution of blame for the degradation of fish habitats and attempts to mobilise recreational fishers to take responsibility for remediation action through engaging in voluntary rehabilitation actions. An analysis of the selected texts highlights how recreational fishers are constituted as moral, political and authoritative actors, and by extension responsibilised to ameliorate degraded fish habitats.
responsibilisation, stewardship, interpretive policy analysis, recreational fishing