Indigenous community preferences for food and ceremonial fishery outcomes: Quantifying the importance of harvestable biomass and spatial distribution via a discrete choice experiment

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Fisheries are inherently complex, with important interactions among biological dynamics, the environment, and the socio-economic systems in which they are embedded. Managing fisheries for both short- and long-term sustainability requires taking a management-oriented paradigm focused on meeting goals and objectives that are important and acceptable to all fisheries participants. Indigenous communities regularly feel that they are under-represented in fisheries decision-making, and that their cultural and livelihood objectives are ignored. Governments want to integrate Indigenous criteria into their definition of fisheries management success, but to date there is a lack of tools and processes to help Indigenous communities quantify their objectives in a way that can effectively inform the DFO process. Using a case study on the West Coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI), this project examines how a simple survey with a discrete choice experiment (DCE) can be used to help quantify Indigenous objectives. I worked with the Nuu-chah-nulth Indigenous community to design and implement a DCE to determine their preferences for the outcomes of a food and ceremonial fishery. The DCE provided quantitative information to show positive preferences for increased layers of spawn on bough and quality of spawning area, and negative preferences for increasing number of spawning areas and increasing travel time. Additionally, we found evidence of a shifting preference baseline in the Nuu-chah-nulth community, highlighting a loss of traditional Nuu-chah-nulth knowledge caused by low herring abundances along the WCVI. DCE results are supported by qualitative comments from the Nuu-chah-nulth community, making us confident that the DCE was able to effectively represent community preferences. Overall, we found that DCE’s can help Indigenous communities translate their general fishery goals into specific measureable objectives, allowing their goals and values to be better represented and included in fisheries management decision-making.
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