Mismatches in salmon social-ecological systems : insights from Canada’s North Pacific Coast
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Subjectenvironmental governance; Indigenous governance; mismatch; Pacific salmon; social-ecological systems
This dissertation provides an important contribution to the study of institutional fit by providing an empirical examination of mismatches, and solutions for overcoming them, in some of the world’s most resilient and enduring social-ecological systems. Mismatches between institutions and social-ecological systems, often referred to as institutional mismatches or problems of “fit”, are a major sustainability challenge in natural resource management. While mismatches are hypothesized to lead to the degradation of social-ecological systems, mismatches are often explored in a theoretical context rather than through applied case studies that focus on the identification, characterization, causes, and consequences of mismatch for social-ecological systems. This dissertation uses the theoretical concept of “fit” to examine institutional alignment with Pacific salmon social-ecological systems in north and central British Columbia, Canada. Using an empirical case study of the Skeena River watershed, I identify the key attributes and characteristics that are giving rise to problems of fit and their consequences for fundamentally interlinked salmon social-ecological systems, including impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, livelihoods, and approaches to resource management and stewardship. I then explore solutions for alleviating mismatches and improving social-ecological alignment in two other salmon-bearing regions on British Columbia’s north and central coast – the Nass River watershed and the Central Coast. These two examples illustrate how collaborative efforts to characterize the spatial, temporal, and functional characteristics and dynamics of salmon ecosystems can lay a foundation for overcoming mismatches. While my findings are focused on salmon-bearing watersheds in north and central British Columbia, they are generalizable to other social-ecological systems in which mismatches between social and ecological processes and institutions exist and where solutions to mismatches are required in order to ensure the long-term survival and resilience of the social-ecological system.
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