This research assesses the feasibility of a method, currently being tested by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to identify the sources of derelict trawl fishing nets in the North Pacific Ocean. NOAA's method seeks to use the design parameters of each recovered fragment of netting to identify the originating trawl net from which it was torn.
The feasibility of NOAA's efforts depend on the relationship between an entire trawl net and its individual parts or fragments. This relationship can take one of two basic forms: the object may be organized in the manner of an organism, in which case its parts are diagnostic of the whole, or it may be organized in the manner of an assemblage, in which case the parts bear no clear relationship to the whole. The question is: which kind of object are trawl nets?
This research answers that question empirically and theoretically. Empirically, it analyzes the design and construction process for trawl nets. To do so it employs a small number of interviews with trawl net manufacturers in Seattle, and exhaustively reviews the literatures on trawl engineering, trawl design, and fish-trawl interactions. It then theoretically examines whether trawl nets are organismic objects, as described in Gilbert Simondon's influential mid-century theory of technical objects, or whether they are assemblages, as described in the more recent work of Manuel DeLanda.
Because because trawl nets are technical assemblages, they cannot be identified using NOAA's current source identification method.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2011. Major: Geography. Advisor: Dr. Bruce P. Braun. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 313 pages.
Handler, Nicholas Max.
Technocenosis: As assessment of efforts to identify the sources of derelict trawl nets in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
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