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Distribution of fishery benefits and community well-being: a review of increased access to the Eastern Nova Scotia snow crab fishery

Kevin Squires, Maritime Fishermen's Union
Melanie G Wiber, Department of Anthropology, University of New Brunswick


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An expanding fish stock offers a rare opportunity to support fishing enterprises whose traditional fisheries have diminished or failed. The Eastern Nova Scotia snow crab fishery is one example, where in 2005, a growing stock allowed benefit-sharing among more than 700 harvesters. As a contributing case study of social and institutional aspects of sustainability, we review the background of that fishery and the outcomes of the redistribution of fishery benefits. Based on more than 50 semistructured interviews, the case study demonstrates how conflict has settled into cooperation, with the fishery remaining biologically sound and highly beneficial to individuals and their communities. However, the method chosen to manage the distribution in Eastern Nova Scotia has not guaranteed that benefits will remain in local communities. In other jurisdictions, alternative approaches developed in conjunction with broad-based harvester organizations demonstrate better benefit retention in local communities. When compared with the Canada Fisheries Research Network Sustainability Framework, this case study offers insights into the benefits that thoughtful resource redistribution can provide, illustrating that fishery policy decisions must anticipate long-term implications and should apply a definition of fisheries sustainability that includes community well-being, in this case, as evidenced in local licence retention.

Key words

community benefit; distribution of benefits; fisheries; sustainability

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087