I conduct my dissertation research with the persmission, guidance, and collaboration of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations and Ha'oom Fishing Society. Tla-o-qui-aht have generously welcomed me into the Tla-o-qui-aht hahouthli (territory) and have shared traditional practices of governance and knowledge of rivers and salmon so that my research may in turn support their path to self-determination.
My dissertation research focuses on knowledge integration into salmon fishery governance on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C. (WCVI). Salmon is highly valued for cultural, environmental, economic, spiritual, and relational importance to multiple First Nation and Canadian stakeholders that hold different worldviews, beliefs, and knowledges. This presents a challenge in developing fishery management plans that adequately address stakeholder rights, knowledge, values while meeting fishery and conservation objectives. My research is guided by the following general questions:
i) How do governing bodies and user groups interact and make decisions regarding access and use of WCVI salmon fisheries?
ii) Within these interactions, how are scientific, local, and indigenous knowledges and values shared? Which are integrated into decision –making for salmon fishery management, and what is the effect?
iii) How is power exercised and redistributed in these interactions? In what ways are power and the integration of knowledge and value into policy in WCVI salmon fishery governance connected?
These governance structures, relationships, and power dynamics are changing dramatically. Canada's supreme court recently recognized the commercial fishing rights of Tla-o-qui-aht and four other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations and ordered Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to integrate these rights into their management practices. Ha'oom Fishing Society manages the demonstration for - sale fisheries for these five First Nations. Additionally, Bill C-68 mandates that DFO integrate local and indigenous knowledges into fishery management plans. The Nations each have their own governing body which includes management of traditional and home use fisheries. The Nations, DFO, Ha'oom Fishing Society, and other stakeholders are developing novel methods of knowledge mobilization as a means of affirming First Nations' agency, integrating indigenous rights and knowledge, and potentially shifting the fundamental structure of WCVI fishery governance. I am documenting these transitions and assessing the efficacy of indigenous knowledge integration in Canadian WCVI salmon fishery management.
Knowledge, People, Power, and Salmon
In collaboration with multiple partners, researchers at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions are developing assessments for a variety of ongoing coastal restoration and management efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. The project, Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Logic Models & Socio-Economic Indicators (GEMS), seeks to build models and metrics to facilitate effective project planning and evaluation across project types, scales, and locations.
In 2020, I worked with the GEMS team to develop protocols for assessments of the local, regional, and project-specific outcomes of these restoration efforts. My work specifically focused on integrating equity considerations into these outcome assessment protocols. The resulting protocols should provide guidance for methodologies that assess how trade offs of coastal restoration products are distributed across local communities, whether local values are represented and protected, and that social and economic costs and benefits of restoration efforts are equitably distributed to protect vulnerable communities.
Click here to learn more about the GEMS project.
There has been a large push in the U.S. to expand marine aquaculture. In North Carolina, political and industrial interest in expanded oyster aquaculture has to do with perceived potential for economic and environmental benefit. However, in rural coastal communities like Down East, NC, local perspecitves don't always align with this optimistic interest. In Down East, livelihoods in wild catch fisheries are deeply ingrained as heritage and culture. Down East is particularly vulnerable due to collapsed fisheries, impacts of climate change, and perceived threats of displacement by tourism and industrial development. The Down East community may not perceive aquaculture as positively as more dominant narratives. Considering local news media, I ask:
What are the dominant narratives in local news media regarding the expansion of oyster aquaculture Down East?
Do these narrative reflect or ignore certain local values?
Do these narratives mirror the popular focus on economic opportunity in broader Blue Economy discourse?
This project is a part of an ongoing collaborative effort to
understand the vlaues people associate with different forms of seafood production in North Carolina. The project is lead by Grant Murray and other researchers at the Duke Marine Lab, University of Maine, and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute. You can read more about the Seafood Values project here.
In 2016, I worked with Dr. Alan Shanks the Oregon Institute for Marine Biology to study target populations of gooseneck barnacles of interest to Oregon fishers. In Spain, gooseneck barnacles or percebes are an overfished delicacy fetching a high market price. Oregon fishing communities show interest in developing a fishery to capitalize on the high sale value of percebes utilizing Pacific goosenecks (Pollicipes polymerus). Commercial fishing in Oregon is currently limited to man-made structures (jetties) with limited information on populations in these habitats. To fill this knowledge gap and avoid overfishing, we investigated the current status of P. polymerus populations. Our research was structured through collaboration with multiple local stakeholders.
Our work had three primary objectives, guided by stakeholder goals:
1) Describe the structure of gooseneck barnacle populations of jetties, including overall density, the density of new recruits and settlers, gregarious settlement patterns and extent of populated habitat.
2) Investigate the potential for mariculture development to avoid future overharvest of existing populations. Successful design requires survival of transplant from the field. Additionally, explore the possibility of increasing growth rates through diet modification.
3) Establish a multistakeholder collaborative framework for data dissemination and sustainable fishery development.
Our research expanded the knowledge base informing a viable, sustainable fishery by linking science, management and fishery development in a proactive approach to combat overfishing and a later need for restorative management. This strategy fits well into pursuing a locally and globally necessary shift towards collaborative and sustainable small-scale fishery development.
I studied gooseneck barnacles (Pollicipes spp.) for my undergraduate honors thesis research. Local stakeholders expressed interest in developing a gooseneck barnacle fishery, however scientific information on the population dynamics and life history patterns of Oregon goosenecks was lacking. To begin filling this knowledge gap, I studied the spatial and temporal variability of life history patterns and population structure of Pollicipes polymerus along the central Oregon coast. Through field and lab work mentored by Dr. Mark Novak and funded by the OSU SURE Science program, I documented:
(i) significant correlation between regional differences in oceanography and
gooseneck population density
(ii) site - specific variation in the size - frequency distribution of individuals, particularly in the fraction of individuals of harvestable size,
(iii) seasonality in population brooding patterns, and
(iv) slow rates of population recovery spanning multiple years in a manipulative harvest simulation experiment on natural substrates.
The work informed my Undergraduate Honors Thesis: Sensitive Barnacles: A Case Study for Collaborative Sustainable Fishery Development. I argue that sustainable fishery management utilizing stakeholder collaboration must become a proactive strategy to prevent or reduce further long - lasting impacts of overfishing. Current human – ocean relationships are dominated by unsustainable extraction of marine resources having both ecological and socio-economic consequences. In Oregon, the developing fishery for gooseneck barnacle presents a real - world opportunity to reframe fisheries management. Commercial gooseneck fishing in Oregon requires the development of harvest management built upon robust knowledge of the species and its ecological function to prevent the overfishing patterns historically seen in Europe.
I was introduced to marine fieldwork through working as an undergraduate research assistant in the OSU Novak lab. For over three years, I helped set up and monitor long term projects in Oregon rocky intertidal field sites and processed photo data in the lab. I assisted in studies using whelks, intertidal predacious snails, to better understand indirect species interactions and the effects of intraspecific diet variation on ecosystem function. I learned to think in terms of systems and I fell in love with coastal fieldwork.
Through OSU's Marine Biology program, I spent a term living and learning at the Hatfield Marine Science Center with a small group of marine biology undergrad studentes. Each day featured fieldwork, lectures, and lab sessions styudying intertidal invertebrates and algae, fish, and marine ecology. We also completed student-led research projects. The class maintained a blog during the term, and you can read our weekly updates and those of other years' classes here.
I studied abroad in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands through the Universidad San Francisco de Quito - Galápagos Academic Institute of Arts and Sciences. Through a program focused on marine ecology, I participated in various research efforts on the island including onshore, snorkel, and SCUBA monitoring of endemic marine megafauna and I co-lead student studies of damselfish territoriality and subtidal algal distribution. The experience sparked my interest in connecting human systems and sustainability to my marine studies. I blogged during the study abroad, and you can read my reflections on the experience here.