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Resilient Salmon, Resilient Fisheries for British Columbia, Canada

Michael C Healey, University of British Columbia; CALFED Bay-Delta Program

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Abstract

Salmon are inherently resilient species. However, this resiliency has been undermined in British Columbia by a century of centralized, command-and-control management focused initially on maximizing yield and, more recently, on economic efficiency. Community and cultural resiliency have also been undermined, especially by the recent emphasis on economic efficiency, which has concentrated access in the hands of a few and has disenfranchised fishery-dependent communities. Recent declines in both salmon stocks and salmon prices have revealed the systemic failure of the current management system. If salmon and their fisheries are to become viable again, radically new management policies are needed. For the salmon species, the emphasis must shift from maximizing yield to restoring resilience; for salmon fisheries, the emphasis must shift from maximizing economic efficiency to maximizing community and cultural resilience. For the species, an approach is needed that integrates harvest management, habitat management, and habitat enhancement to sustain and enhance resilience. This is best achieved by giving fishing and aboriginal communities greater responsibility and authority to manage the fisheries on which they depend. Co-management arrangements that involve cooperative ownership of major multistock resources like the Fraser River and Skeena River fisheries and community-based quota management of smaller fisheries provide ways to put species conservation much more directly in the hands of the communities most dependent on the well-being and resilience of these fisheries.

Key words

fishery management; Pacific salmon; resilience; sustainable fisheries
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087