Kin, community, and diverse rural economies: Rethinking resource governance for Alaska rural fisheries
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Kin, community, and diverse rural economies: Rethinking resource governance for Alaska rural fisheries

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  • Journal Title:
    Marine Policy
  • Sea Grant Program:
  • Description:
    The challenge of designing institutions and resource policy for ecosystem and social resilience in rural and small-scale fisheries is receiving renewed attention in Alaska and elsewhere. Many rural and Indigenous fishing communities have been negatively impacted by modern resource allocation and management regimes that restrict and privatize fishery access through the creation of individual property rights. This article draws on ethnographic and interview data from a multi-sited study to improve policy considerations for rural and small-scale fisheries access. The Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska is a site of concerning social trends including the ‘graying of the fleet’ and a rise in nonlocal ownership of fishing rights. Since the state began limiting entry into salmon fisheries in 1975, local permit holdings in Bristol Bay communities have declined by roughly 50%. This paper examines the ways in which assumptions and norms operating within state, regional, and local institutions support and/or constrain local fishing practices and participation in the region. A central objective is to challenge dominant and universalist assumptions of fishermen as dis-embedded, profit-maximizing, self-interested actors that do not fit well with small-scale, rural, and Indigenous fisheries. This paper identifies social relationships and interdependencies as central to rural fishing communities and livelihoods and absent from the rational choice/individual economic actor assumptions of modern resource allocation and management regimes. Findings presented here offer new framings for environmental analyses and help to inform solutions to ecological and social sustainability concerns marking global fisheries today.
  • Source:
    Marine Policy 117: 103966, 2020
  • Sea Grant Document Number:
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  • Rights Information:
    CC BY
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