The Thriving Coastal Communities Initiative

Rural and resource-based coastal communities in British Columbia (BC) are facing a number of pressing challenges that are affecting the holistic health and well-being of local people. The challenges facing coastal communities include being disconnected from decision-making process, a changing climate, rapidly evolving ecosystems, increasing pollution, declining investment, loss of community infrastructure, increasing competition over […]

Reconciling social justice and ecosystem-based management in the wake of a successful predator reintroduction.

The reintroduction of a previously extirpated predator can engender conflict when the reintroduced species depletes customary fisheries to which indigenous communities have constitutionally protected rights. In the case of sea otter (Enhydra lutris) recovery on the west coast of North America, not only is Canada’s Species at Risk Act in conflict with Indigenous rights, but it also illuminates gaps in the principles of ecosystem-based management (EBM), such as equity and social justice. Broadly, we ask in this paper how EBM might be advanced if Indigenous communities were viewed as components of ecosystems having rights to a sustainable future equal to other components. Specifically, we explore evidence of sea otter management among precontact Northwest Coast societies and a contemporary co-managed system proposed by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations that would combine research with refinement of traditional hunting practices. We show that barriers persist through lack of knowledge of past controlled hunts, ignorance of recent experiences of successful community-based clam management, distrust of Indigenous capacity to self-manage or co-manage a hunt, and divergent values among actors.

Integrating diverse objectives for sustainable fisheries in Canada

An interdisciplinary team of academics, and representatives of fishing fleets and government collaborated to study the emerging requirements for sustainability in Canada’s fisheries. Fisheries assessment and management has focused on biological productivity with insufficient consideration of social (including cultural), economic and institutional (governance) aspects. Further, there has been little discussion or formal evaluation of the effectiveness of fisheries management. The team of over 50 people 1) identified a comprehensive set of management objectives for a sustainable fishery system based on Canadian policy statements, 2) combined objectives into an operational framework with relevant performance indicators for use in management planning, and 3) undertook case studies which investigated some social, economic and governance aspects in greater detail. The resulting framework extends the suite of widely accepted ecological aspects (productivity and trophic structure, biodiversity, and habitat/ecosystem integrity) to include comparable economic (viability and prosperity, sustainable livelihoods, distribution of access and benefits, regional/community benefits), social (health and wellbeing, sustainable communities, ethical fisheries), and institutional (legal obligations, good governance structure, effective decision-making) aspects of sustainability. This work provides a practical framework for implementation of a comprehensive approach to sustainability in Canadian fisheries. The project also demonstrates the value of co-construction of collaborative research and co-production of knowledge that combines and builds on the strengths of academics, industry and government.

Coastal and Indigenous community access to marine resources and the ocean: a policy imperative for Canada.

Access, defined as the ability to use and benefit from available marine resources or areas of the ocean or coast, is important for the well-being and sustainability of coastal communities. In Canada, access to marine resources and ocean spaces is a significant issue for many coastal and Indigenous communities due to intensifying activity and competition in the marine environment.

Hegemony and resistance: disturbing patterns and hopeful signs in the impact of neoliberal policies on small-scale fisheries around the world.

This paper reviews the major themes and contributions of this Special Issue in light of a broader social science literature on how to conceptualize small-scale fisheries, the role of the state in facilitating or limiting neoliberalism, and the failure of neoliberal policies to improve conservation. It concludes with a look at ways in which neoliberalism is being undermined by emerging alternatives.

Strategies for assertion of conservation and local management rights: A Haida Gwaii herring story

Under what conditions can an aboriginal fishing community keep a commercial fishery closed because of persistent low stock abundance when the federal government insists on opening it to commercial fishing? This paper explores a decades long effort by the Haida Nation to protect local herring stocks on Haida Gwaii through a precautionary approach to commercial fishing, recently resulting in a Federal Court-granted injunction that prevented the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from opening a commercial herring fishery on Haida Gwaii in 2015. The successful effort by the Haida Nation to protect herring stocks ultimately required a combination of strategies involving confrontation, negotiation and litigation that occurred across two management scales (local and coast-wide) and two levels of dispute resolution. Strategies were successful as a result of four key factors: (a) ongoing conservation concerns about probable harm to herring populations, (b) the existence of aboriginal rights that raises standards for federal government consultation and accommodation, (c) an existing negotiated co-management agreement between the Haida and Canada about the area where most herring stocks are located, and (d) strategic interactions among local and coast-wide forums where herring closures were debated.