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Centering Indigenous governance principles, values, and objectives to build a just blue economy decision space

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.R.M.
Date created
Transitioning towards a blue economy globally requires governance processes and management strategies that reflect local knowledge, values, and objectives. Decisions about how to use ocean spaces need to consider social equity, environmental sustainability, and resilience to a swiftly changing climate. To inform future decisions about kelp harvest and mariculture activities on the west coast of Canada, we co-developed research questions and methods with the Kwakiutl Nation to document ancestral Kwakiutl governance principles, quantify contemporary community values, and envision resilient and just future management practices within a decision space framework. We found that Kwakiutl governance principles of respect, reciprocity, 'we are all one', and responsibility are foundational to kelp-forest human relationships. Moreover, relational and indirect use values of kelp, such as kelp being used by future generations and part of a healthy ocean, were more important to Kwakiutl Nation members than direct uses like kelp as income. Strategic management actions, including the resurgence of Kwakiutl identity and knowledge, were identified as ways to support climate resilient kelp harvest and mariculture practices. While there is interest in developing Nation-owned kelp mariculture operations to participate in the blue economy, economic gain is less important than sustaining wild kelp forests and re-establishing human-kelp relationships within the community. Overall, this work reaffirms that kelps have been and remain important relations to Kwakiutl people for millennia and highlights numerous social-ecological barriers to maintaining these connections such as a lack of boat access, complex permitting processes, and warming coastal oceans. These results emphasize that, among the Kwakiutl Nation, values other than economic gain guide the decision-making space surrounding emerging kelp industries. As countries worldwide develop 'blue economic' policies, they can prioritize just governance and social-ecological sustainability by guiding place-based management actions with local trade-off preferences and values, Indigenous knowledge, and governance protocols.
78 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Salomon, Anne
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