Ecologically sustainable but unjust? Negotiating equity and authority in common-pool marine resource management
Sarah C Klain, University of British Columbia
Rachelle Beveridge, University of Victoria
Nathan J Bennett, Univeristy of British Columbia; Visiting Research Fellow at University of Victoria
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Under appropriate conditions, community-based fisheries management can support sound resource stewardship, with positive social and environmental outcomes. Evaluating indigenous peoples’ involvement in commercial sea cucumber and geoduck fisheries on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada, we found that the current social-ecological system configuration is relatively ecologically sustainable according to stock assessments. However, the current system also results in perceived inequities in decision-making processes, harvesting allocations, and socioeconomic benefits. As a result, local coastal resource managers envision a transformation of sea cucumber and geoduck fisheries governance and management institutions. We assessed the potential robustness of the proposed institutions using Elinor Ostrom’s common-pool resource design principles. Grounded in the region’s legal, political, and historical context, our analysis suggests that greater local involvement in these invertebrate fisheries and their management could provide more benefits to local communities than the status quo while maintaining an ecologically sustainable resource. Our research highlights the importance of explicitly addressing historical context and equity considerations in social-ecological system analyses and when renegotiating the institutions governing common-pool resources.
benthic fisheries; common-pool resources; CPR design principles; environmental governance; indigenous or aboriginal peoples; resource management; small-scale fisheries; social-ecological system framework
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