Understanding Values in Canada’s North Pacific: Capturing Values from Commercial Fisheries

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Often the role commercial fishing plays in communities is poorly documented; this is the case in Canada’s Pacific North Coast. To address this gap, this study documents the full suite of values that wild-capture-commercial fishing brings to communities in Canada’s Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA).

To address the complex threats to our oceans, fishery management and integrated marine planning aim to meet ecological, economic and social objectives. In order to have effective management and planning processes, it is essential for decision-makers to understand and include impacts of all marine users and resources. In BC, commercial wild-capture fishermen are historically important stakeholders of the marine environment, but the full value that this industry brings to families and communities is not well documented. A recent socio-economic and cultural assessment of PNCIMA provides valuable information for decision-making (e.g. the role commercial fisheries play in the regional and provincial formal economy), but this study acknowledges that important gaps still exist.

In this study we document the full suite of tangible financial, other tangible, and intangible values that wild-capture-commercial fishing brings to families and communities in PNCIMA. It is especially important, and relatively uncommon, to characterize the less tangible values an industry brings to a community because commercial activities can make large contributions to social capital. Because less tangible values, like social capital, describe the structure and functioning of communities, understanding these values will lead to better-informed fisheries management and social objectives for integrated marine planning (e.g. the PNCIMA process) and will support economic objectives because less tangible values affect the formal economy.