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The Political Ecology Of Gear Bans In Two Fisheries: Florida's Net Ban And Alaska's Salmon Wars

P. Loring
Published 2017 · Business

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Parametric management in fisheries, which describes the management of how, where and when fishing occurs, is often essential for achieving sustainability. Changes to these parameters likely have impacts on stakeholders, however, for example through the costs and allocative consequences of spatial restrictions or gear changes. Here, I discuss two cases where gear bans have been implemented or proposed in response to conservation concerns: the commercial net ban enacted in Florida in 1995 and the failed ban on set gill-nets in parts of Alaska. The two cases are remarkably similar, although the outcomes were quite different because of the social context of each fishery. Lessons from the Florida ban, which resulted in numerous negative social and ecological impacts, are informative regarding the impacts that likely would have accompanied the Alaska ban, had it proceeded. In both cases, the gear bans have had or were poised to have notable impacts on allocation, but scientific evidence for their necessity was limited. These cases show how ethical considerations can be inseparable from the ecological aspects of managing fisheries, and that when communities grapple with the sustainability of fisheries, they are simultaneously seeking to define the socially acceptable uses of those resources. I suggest a set of questions that can be asked when proposing parametric changes to fisheries, including how those changes will impact social well-being and community resilience. These are questions that I argue must be addressed if both ethical and sustainable fisheries are the goal.
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