Monday, February 9, 2015

Ecologically sustainable but unjust?

by Sarah Klain, CHANs lab PhD Candidate

Fisheries have supported people along the central coast of British Columbia for millennia. Currently, you need hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to buy the right to participate in the commercial sea cucumber and geoduck fisheries. These fisheries could provide more jobs for First Nations who live near these fisheries, but entrenched management systems would have to change. 
The coastal waters of the Great Bear Rainforest support lucrative fisheries, including sea cucumber, a marine invertebrate with leathery skin, and geoduck, a gigantic salt-water clam. Both are invertebrates These two fisheries are managed in ways that are, arguably, ecologically sustainable, but they currently provide few opportunities and little income to First Nation communities. In our recent publication, we applied the ideas of Nobel-laureate Elinor Ostrom related to design principles for sustainable common pool resource systems with emphasis on the history of a place and equity considerations.

The “geo” in geoduck is pronounced as “gooey.”

Based on evidence from our literature review and interviews, we argue that providing Central Coast First Nations with greater commercial access to these fisheries as well as more say in their management could likely maintain the ecological integrity of these stocks. This could also contribute to partially righting some historical injustices, addressing power imbalances and a more equitable distribution of rights, responsibilities and benefits associated with these fisheries. 
Sea cucumber in BC.

Klain, S. C., Beveridge, R., & Bennett, N. J. (2014). Ecologically sustainable but unjust? Negotiating equity and authority in common-pool marine resource management. Ecology and Society, 19(4), art52. doi:10.5751/ES-07123-190452

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