Nevin Manimala Statistics

Fish, People, and Systems of Power: Understanding and Disrupting Feedback between Colonialism and Fisheries Science

Am Nat. 2022 Jul;200(1):168-180. doi: 10.1086/720152. Epub 2022 Jun 2.


AbstractThis essay explores shifting scientific understandings of fish and the evolution of fisheries science, and it grapples with colonialism as a system of power. We trace the rise of fisheries science to a time when Western nation-states were industrializing fishing fleets and competing for access to distant fishing grounds. A theory of fishing called “maximum sustainable yield” (MSY) that understands fish species in aggregate was espoused. Although alternatives to MSY have been developed, decision-making continues to be informed by statistical models developed within fisheries science. A challenge for structured management systems now rests in attending to different systems of knowledge and addressing local objectives, values, and circumstances. To deepen and illustrate key points, we examine Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) and the expansion of commercial herring fisheries and state-led management in British Columbia, Canada. A feedback between colonialism and fisheries science is evident: colonialism generated the initial conditions for expansion and has been reinforced through the implementation of approaches and tools from fisheries science that define and quantify conservation in particular ways. Some features may be unique to the herring illustration, but important aspects of the feedback are more broadly generalizable. We propose three interconnected goals: (a) transform the siloed institutions and practices of Western science, (b) reimagine and rebuild pathways between information (including diverse values and perspectives) and decision-making, and (c) devolve governance authority and broaden governance processes such that multiple ways of knowing share equal footing.

PMID:35737985 | DOI:10.1086/720152

By Nevin Manimala

Portfolio Website for Nevin Manimala