Our OctoPINTS project has officially been running for two years (and 4months)! This is a slightly delayed annual report of our activities and outputs for the second year and a bit more from June 2020 to October 2021. Please find a pdf version of the report here.

OctoPINTS Background

OctoPINTS May 2021 – Maja, Liz, Emilie, Jineth and Tim trying out a social distancing workshop with Rose, Andrew, and Benni on Zoom.

The OctoPINTS project is based on the belief that the intersection between participatory empirical research and agent-based modeling is a useful way to understand critical aspects of sustainability in small-scale fisheries. In collaboration with researchers from Sweden (Emilie Lindkvist, Liz Drury O’Neill, Tim Daw, Maja Schlüter), Kenya (Andrew Wamukota) and Tanzania (Rosemarie Mwaipopo) we have continued our exciting work that started back in 2019. This last year has included fieldwork data analysis, agent-based modeling, and online expert workshops, a storytelling series, as well as several conference presentations. This document summarizes the key activities and outputs that we have accomplished during the second year within the OctoPINTS project.

Overarching Project Aims

  1. Untangle what defines success of Octopus closures for different stakeholders in Zanzibar and across the Western Indian Ocean (WIO).
  2. Identify the mechanisms leading to successful outcomes in Zanzibar and across the WIO
  3. Reveal the trade-offs between short- and long-term outcomes and between different social groups within fishing communities in Zanzibar.
  4. Understand fishers and fish workers’ perceptions of closures in Zanzibar in different points in time and how that affects fishers’ motivations and actions.

We take a gendered perspective and thus include gender and gendered processes in our understanding of success, mechanisms, and trade-offs as well as in the models we develop.

Co-developed research questions

  1. Which factors influence the closure model design, compliance and outcomes under different conditions? Such as community relations, neighbors & migrant fishers, history of conservation, tourism, national policies, power relations and roles (by gender, age, class/wealth), enforcement agencies or NGOs.
  2. How does the closure model design process influence compliance and outcomes?
    For example, with respect to participation, equity, agency, communication and information sharing, design of closure.
  3. How do different fishery actors perceive the process and outcomes? And how are different social groups affected by the closures?

How do outcomes of the closure model reinforce or change future closures and community dynamics? E.g., relationships between fishery actors, agency and capacity, institutional dynamics, closure design.

Expanding the team

Two brilliant minds joined us during 2021. Jineth Berrío-Martínez, who will work on her master’s thesis with the tentative title “Exploring complexities of octopus fishery closures: a case study from Zanzibar, Tanzania”. She will do a rapid literature review on Octopus cyanea, review topics in our fieldwork, and make expert interviews to design and model the characteristic of the octopus and analyze the social-ecological outcomes of periodic octopus closures. Very exciting! Starting mid-August for 2.5 months we had the opportunity to have Benedetta Veneroni, from the University of Freiburg, doing her internship with us to learn agent-based modeling, engage in a research environment, and explore the topic of masculinities within the OctoPINTS fieldwork and in SSF. You can read her reflections from her internship (Veneroni, 2021a) and about her work on masculinities (Veneroni, 2021b) in our blog. Earlier in 2021 we also hosted SRC master student Anna Garre during a one-month internship on Intersectionality, one of our key OctoPINTS topics. She interviewed Liz among other researchers about how they approach intersectionality in their work as well as hosted a seminar discussion “Why care about Intersectionality?” and published her internship work in this blogpost “Intersectionality – of growing interest to social-ecological systems research”. In addition Anna also has worked with translation of our work into French (see the fieldwork section below).

Activities and outreach

This year we spent our time analyzing fieldwork data from our three Zanzibari sites and building the agent-based model. The planned second round of fieldwork had to be postponed due to COVID. The first round however has been shared through stories, available on our website and at Spotify and is soon to be shared through the publication “Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management” led by Liz (Drury O’Neill et al., In Preparation), as well as in the model “The OctoSim Model: Compliance and periodic fisheries closures”, a beta version of which can be found at CoMSES (Lindkvist, 2021)

Expert workshop Sept 2021

During our weekly Tuesday mini-meetings involving Emilie, Tim and Liz, we have been discussing theories and frameworks for analyzing the fieldwork data in addition to other practicalities. We complemented these meetings during Autumn with a couple of modeling sessions involving Maja, our students Benedetta and Jineth. Benedetta and Jineth also joined us for our yearly OctoPINTS team meeting which happened over three days in September. This event included a half day expert workshop where we invited scientists and practitioners working with octopus closures from the WIO region, including those who had participated in our 2019 WIOMSA session in Mauritius. The online expert workshop sparked many interesting discussions based on the fieldwork results shared by Liz, through a story-telling exercise, and through Emilie presenting the model. Thanks to Tim’s excellent facilitation skills as well as tech and planning support by Benedetta and Jineth we were able to have multiple break out discussions and plenaries on compliance, collaboration and intervention-dynamics throughout the WIO. This session was invaluable to the progress as well as quality of our work and we are very grateful to those that participated and so actively engaged in the workshop.

Our poster at UDSM research week in Sociology and Anthropology at CoSS.

In May 2021 Rosemarie presented our research project at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Research Week, an event at UDSM where all research projects are presented and where participants prepare materials and the university prepare the final posters. Rosemarie and the OctoPINTS project were among the three research projects selected as best projects at the College of Social Science level and was then presented in the final University level Research week where projects from all disciplines are displayed. Our project was also selected for display [as part of UDSM] at the National Saba-Saba Celebrations of 2021, held for 10 days at the Mwalimu Nyerere International Trade Fair Grounds. The Saba-Saba celebrations are an annual event held for two weeks and climaxes on 7th July. These celebrations bring together academic, research, service, business, philanthropist and other innovations every year.

TBTI Session. Between June 2nd and 8th 2021 the international small-scale fisheries research partnership Too Big To Ignore (TBTI) virtually hosted 40 sessions run by 70 different organizations in celebration of World Oceans Week 2021 on the theme ‘Life and Livelihoods’. The open house focused on 5 main themes- 1) Wellbeing and food security; 2) Gender & dignity; 3) Change & resilience; 4) Justice & equity; and 5) Capacity & prospects. OctoPINTS took part in the Justice and Equity Day hosting an hour long session (Check out the full session on youtube). We focused the session on methodologies for understanding how small-scale fishery interventions are experienced, understood and simulated by stakeholders and researchers. We spotlighted the rapidly spreading periodic octopus closure in the WIO. The session reflected on multiple understandings and explorations of what ‘success’ means for this intervention process, particularly in the long term. The session led to fruitful discussions about the methodologies and perspectives of researching dimensions of equity or justice in a small-scale fishery context- where power imbalances and social marginalization often characterize aspects of who and how people access, participate and benefit from interventions (Drury O’Neill et al., 2021).

We participated in the MARE conference 2021 where Liz presented our work with emphasis on the fieldwork results in her presentation “The politics of compliance in marine protected areas- the case of octopus closures”, and Emilie presented with focus on the modeling work at the Social Simulations Conference ”Understanding complexities in small-scale fisheries: Combining stories and simulations”. The latter will be published as a part of a conference series.

Liz and Emilie presenting at SwAM

We also had the opportunity to present at Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM), in the network group for gender equity and human rights (Swe- Havs och vatten myndigheten, Nätverksgruppen för jämställdhet och rättigheter). SwAM is the government agency tasked to protect, restore and ensure sustainable use of freshwater resources and seas including fisheries management, with a strong focus in the WIO region. Emilie and Liz presented the project and Liz read Nuru’s story.

Benedetta and Liz organized a well-attended seminar on Watery Masculinities with the Stewardship and Transformative futures Theme and Complexities Theme seminar at SRC where they presented theories and fieldwork reflections around masculinities. She chose the exciting topic of masculinities in fisheries and attempted to model these (Veneroni, 2021b), as well as organized a much appreciated seminar on masculinities at the SRC. We hope to have her back again soon and wish her the best of luck in her next internship at the FAO fisheries division in the gender team– and with finishing her master’s program and thesis (maybe with us!).

We also shared our work in the SES-LINK research group of which Maja, Emilie, Liz are members as well as Jineth and Benedetta during their time with OctoPINTS. Benedetta led a fun session on her learning experiences from the internship and had all participants reflect and take a trip down memory lane into our own struggles starting out on our science careers – what have you overcome? What are you still working on?

The fieldwork: analysis & paper

Data analysis and paper writing have been ongoing for a year but now the paper is finally taking shape. The paper “Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management” focuses on breaking out the social complexity of communities as a key feature of difference in how environmental and governance changes are experienced by the various types of people involved or impacted. We aim to showcase the diverse understandings of compliance as a major influencer of participatory or collaborative marine conservation interventions, exemplifying the complexity inherent to the process and the types of experiences that can emerge. Non-compliance or rule-breaking is taken as a focus as it arose from grounded qualitative methods as pertinent to many research participants. Compliance behaviour is central to the efficacy of natural resource management while at the same time provides us a chance to better understand the wide variety of contested interests involved in interventions like protected areas or fishery closures. Through the presentation of a narrative combining data from three interpretive methods we depict the heterogeneity and conflict ingrained in understandings and experiences of community-based fishery closures across six participant types in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Periodic octopus closures are taken as a case study intervention due to their rapid uptake across the WIO but also history in traditional marine resource management in Zanzibar. Our discussion looks at responses to rules, rule breaking and rulebreakers in this context through topics of inequality, motivationsorjustificationsofnon-complianceandnotionsofmasculinity, among others. Such a focus enabled us to expose tensions between resource user groups within the process and access a multiplicity of responses to the intervention and its perceived impacts. Through continuous sorting and discussions of different ideas the final working paper from the field is “Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management” and is planned for submission before the end of the year.

The agent-based model

During the year the agent-based modeling has developed into at least a beta version! The model is published at CoMSES, The Network for Computational Modeling in Social and Ecological Sciences (CoMSES, 2019), and goes under the name “The OctoSim Model: Compliance and periodic fisheries closures (Beta) (version 1.0.0)”.

The purpose of the model is to explore how processes associated with compliance across different fishery actors’ social groups interplay with their acceptance of a fishery intervention, herein periodic closures of a small-scale octopus fishery. The model agents, entities (Figure 1) and processes (Figure 2) are designed based on stylized facts from literature and expert workshops on periodic closures in the Western Indian Ocean region, as well as fieldwork from Zanzibari villages that have implemented periodic octopus closures. The model is designed for scientists and decision-makers that are interested in understanding the complex interplay between fishers from different social groups, herein foot fisher men, foot fisher women and male skin divers or free divers within the periodic closure of an octopus species. Including various actions resulting from the restrictions, i.e., opportunities, temptation, or needs to poach as a consequence from restricting fishing in certain areas and during certain times. For the next steps we will continue sharing the model with experts for more feedback and explore scenarios for a publication associated with the model.

The OctoSim model visual interface. Free reefs in green and closure reefs in orange. Deeper reefs in darker colors where only divers can hunt octopus. The little gray dots are octopus of different sizes. Foot fishing women in orange, foot fishing men in blue, and divers in brown.
Model flowcharts. The left represents the processes when the closure is open and the right when the closure is closed.

Future outlook – 2022 The Final Year!

Our project is in its final year and we have until the end of June 2022 before our 3 years have passed. In our upcoming activities we hope to revisiting our sites in Zanzibar, perform some follow-up fieldwork and hosting a final stakeholder and expert workshop. We are very excited about upcoming Master’s Thesis and internship results and publications related to our work. We also want to take the opportunity to congratulate Liz who will continue with her own project after OctoPINTS. For the next four years she has been granted a mobility grant from The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas) titled “Patrons of the Seas: Rethinking patron-client relationships in small-scale fisheries” . We look forward to engaging and to sharing our work with you all through the final year. Best wishes, the OctoPINTS team.

See ya next year! Workshop lunch at Santa Salsa Stockholm, Benni, Emilie, Tim, Torbjörn (Emilie’s dad), Liz, and Jineth

List of Outputs


CoMSES, 2019. The Network for Computational Modeling in Social and Ecological Sciences [WWW Document]. URL https://www.comses.net/ (accessed 2.13.16).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021a. Nuru’s Story. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/09/01/nurus-story/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021b. Story: The End. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/10/02/the-end/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021c. Introduction à la série d’histoires “personnages des fermetures de zone à la pêche : expériences humaines des projets de gestion et de conservation marine.” OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/10/27/introduction-a-la-serie-dhistoires-personnages-des-fermetures-de-zone-a-la-peche-experiences-humaines-des-projets-de-gestion-et-de-conservation-marine/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021d. L’histoire de Nuru. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/10/27/lhistoire-de-nuru/ (accessed 10.27.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., 2021e. La Fin. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/11/04/la-fin/ (accessed 11.13.21).

Drury O’Neill, E., Lindkvist, E., Daw, T., Mwaipopo, R., Wamukota, A., Schlüter, M., Veneroni, B., In Preparation. Compliance, complexity and cephalopods–Contested responses to collaborative marine natural resource management.

Drury O’Neill, E., Lindkvist, E., Daw, T.M., 2021. Stories and simulations of octopus closures in the Western Indian Ocean. Small-Scale Fisheries Openhouse with the TBTI (Too Big To Ignore) Research Partnership- In celebration of World Oceans Week 2021. URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqW8XT8yu2s&list=PLMwWC8hfI8PsDQ3_O4bNX0QMsZpv-8gbt&index=27

Garre, A., 2021. Intersectionality – of growing interest to social-ecological systems research. Social-ecological systems Scholars. URL https://sesscholars.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/intersectionality-of-growing-interest-to-social-ecological-systems-research/ (accessed 11.17.21).

Lindkvist, E., 2021. The OctoSim Model: Compliance and periodic fisheries closures (Beta).

Lindkvist, E., Veneroni, B., Daw, T.M., Drury O’Neill, E., Berrío-Martínez, J., 2021. Stories and Simulations: Compliance and Periodic Octopus Closures in the WIO region. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden, https://octopints.files.wordpress.com/2021/11/lindkvist_et_al_stories_and_simulations_workshop_report_octopints_2021.pdf.

Veneroni, B., 2021a. FOCUS-MODEL-ENGAGE: An Intern’s Experience of Complexity (in) Research. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/11/03/focus-model-engage-an-interns-experience-of-complexity-in-research/ (accessed 11.13.21).

Veneroni, B., 2021b. Gender Beyond Women: Exploring Zanzibari Masculinities for Octopus Closures’ Compliance. OctoPINTS. URL https://octopints.wordpress.com/2021/11/11/gender-beyond-women-exploring-zanzibari-masculinities-for-octopus-closures-compliance/ (accessed 11.11.21).

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