Natuurbeheer, ecologie en onzekerheid : Een analyse van het mosselvisserijconflict in de Waddenzee

Floor, J.R.; Koppen, C.S.A. van


Parties involved in conflicts on nature protection, including ecologists and policy officials, often expect that the controversies arising in these conflicts can be
resolved by doing more research, in order to take away existing uncertainties in knowledge. Typically, these uncertainties are interpreted as incomplete knowledge. To shed more light on this expectation, which in literature is known as the 'linear' approach to knowledge in policy, this article investigates the role of scientific uncertainties in controversies on mussel fishery in the Dutch Wadden Sea (1990–2016). Findings show that while a substantial amount of research was done, it was not science-based knowledge that guided policy-making. Instead the controversy was closed, at least temporarily, by the Mussel Covenant, a political agreement between the fishery and nature protection parties. Many of the knowledge uncertainties in this case could be characterized as ambiguous knowledge, stemming from diverging interpretations of research findings, rather than incomplete knowledge. We conclude that science is an important factor in conflicts, but societal and political debates remain crucial in bringing complex nature protection conflicts to closure.