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Recommendations for full-spectrum sustainability in Canadian lobster integrated management plans based on a socioeconomic analysis of Barrington, Nova Scotia

Allain J. Barnett, Florida International University; University of New Brunswick


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Fisheries and Oceans Canada has developed integrated fisheries management plans to promote a more holistic approach to fisheries management. Yet these management plans maintain an emphasis on the ecological domains, without sufficient attention to socioeconomic and institutional domains of management. In this study, I use a case study from Barrington, Nova Scotia, and dimensions from the Canadian Fisheries Research Network Comprehensive Sustainability Framework to demonstrate the importance of socioeconomic and institutional indicators to contribute to fisheries management plans. An analysis of survey data of captains and lobster fishing households revealed decreased access to multiple species fishing strategies, partially because of large inequities in access to individual fishing quotas. Harvesters with a high dependence on lobster as the primary source of income had lower incomes, and higher income sensitivity to the financial crisis of 2008. New strategies have emerged to cope with reduced access to multiple species, and high-yield lobster fishing is often the best available strategy to pay bills and meet costs when lobster prices are low. Outcomes for the region were split, with an equal number of harvesters reporting recent years as the best or worst year they experienced in fishing. Given a history of changing regulations and reduced options to remain flexible when economic and ecological conditions change, harvesters were pessimistic about their future access, and their children’s future access, to fisheries. Harvesters faced livelihood challenges caused by cumulative effects of multiple regulatory and ecological events. I demonstrate how the Canadian Fisheries Research Network Comprehensive Sustainability Framework can guide researchers, managers, and fishing organizations to understand the current management objectives that are not being met, and to develop research priorities, methods, protocols, and personnel to meet a broader spectrum of objectives.

Key words

Canada; equity; groundfish; livelihoods; lobster; Nova Scotia; property rights; quota; stewardship

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes 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