Topic: Blue wellbeing services as new means of income for fisheries: experiences from pilot projects
Keywords: Blue Care, recreational activities, rehabilitative work activities, environmental education, social wellbeing
Water environments i.e. blue spaces offer multi-sensory experiences and can have versatile positive impacts on the physical, mental and social wellbeing and health of humans throughout the year. Concept of ´blue wellbeing´ covers all the services generated in blue spaces ranging from activities in everyday life, tourism, education, and health and social services. Possibilities of fishing as a blue wellbeing service in co-operation of entrepreneurs, associations and schools were studied in pilot projects in the Unesco World Heritage area of the Kvarken Archipelago and in the lake district of Central Finland.
In the experimental learning project, teachers, fishermen and wilderness guides designed customised educational programmes for children in the natural blue environment. Depending on the school curriculum and age of the children themes were chosen to represent fish species and anatomy, the everyday life of fishermen, aquatic ecosystems and sustainability, and cooking. Older pupils focused on more difficult topics such as ethics, animal welfare and health. Lessons provided a natural way to discuss complex and abstract topics such as sustainable development and climate change.
Another pilot project was organised in co-operation with Save the Children association. A group of primary school aged children, whose families receive social support actions, took part in fishing teaching by professional fishing guides. Concentration on the task at hand, the independency of the participants and cohesion among the children increased after each lesson. The role of guide was found to be important to maintain the attention and excitement of the children. The fishing lessons provided a positive topic for discussion and increased communication between the children and their parents.
Fishing was explored as rehabilitative work in the co-operative project. Natural blue space was to support the young men’s mental wellbeing, and to motivate them to take up a new hobby or try a new career. Participants could leave their everyday environment to try fishing and processing of catch in practice. Three-hour sessions with mentoring fisherman included a coffee break that proved to be important moments for reflection and questions.
All the pilot experiments showed increased communication and social association among the participants. Fishing activities were found meaningful, and time spend outdoors was mentioned to be significant part of the events. Participants enjoyed physical activity and felt better mood. Learning outdoors improved concentration, and facilitated the combining of different subjects. Overall, the experienced wellbeing increased. The entrepreneurs saw potential in new business opportunities in social fishing.