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Resource Ecology & Fisheries Management 

Resource Ecology and Ecosystems Modeling Program

Laboratory analysis was performed on 4,872 groundfish stomachs from the eastern Bering Sea, 404 from the Gulf of Alaska, and 541 from the Washington-Oregon-California region.  No observers returned stomach samples during the quarter.

Development and Extension of Food Web Modeling Techniques

REFM scientists, in collaboration with NMML scientists and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (see contribution by Sarah Gaichas is this section) continue to develop and improve ecosystem modeling techniques.  The development and critical review of food web models culminated in a REFM-sponsored workshop held at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center on 29 March 2002 titled “Towards understanding Ecopath with Ecosim’s potential role in fisheries management.”  The meeting was attended by over 20 participants with presentations from researchers from REFM, NMML, NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, University of Washington, University of British Columbia, and University of Cape Town, South Africa.  The aim of the workshop was to discuss appropriate uses of the popular food web modeling tools, with focus on developing versions of these tools that may aid in future ecosystem management efforts.  The discussion covered model methodology and data requirements, preliminary results, and possible uses in investigating trophic interactions with respect to fisheries management.  The creation of an extended version of these models with improved statistical capabilities is under way by REFM staff.

By Pat Livingston.

Economic and Social Sciences Research Program: Measuring Capacity, Utilization, and Economic Performance

The American Fisheries Act (AFA) of 1998 significantly altered the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands walleye pollock fishery by allowing the formation of harvesting and processing cooperatives and defining exclusive fishing rights.  REFM economists have used data envelopment analysis and stochastic production frontier models to examine effects of the AFA on the fishing capacity, technical harvesting efficiency (TE), and capacity utilization (CU) of pollock catcher/processors.  The results indicate that fishing capacity fell by more than 30% and that harvesting TE and CU measures increased relative to past years.  The REFM study provides examples of how existing data, which is currently devoid of operator costs and provides only general indicators of earnings, may be used to analyze changes in elements of fleet and vessel performance in response to management actions.  Results of this research are summarized in a paper titled, “Effects of the American Fisheries Act on Capacity, Utilization, and Technical Efficiency in Alaskan Pollock Fisheries” by  Ron Felthoven.  The paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Marine Resource Economics.

Subsistence Harvests and Cultural Rights

“Treaty Rights and the Right to Culture:  Native American Subsistence Issues in U.S. Law” by Jennifer Sepez examines the history and framework of several conflicts over subsistence harvest of wildlife and the interplay of treaty rights with an inchoate concept of cultural rights.  Where allocation and regulation of shared natural resources fail to account for cultural considerations, the ensuing conflict can be detrimental to effective resource management.  The paper discusses three examples involving such conflict:  waterfowl hunting in Alaska, Northwest treaty salmon fishing, and Inuit and Makah whaling.

Each case study demonstrates that treaty rights are a more powerful force than cultural rights in the courtroom, but that both play important roles in actual policy outcomes.  Policy decisions based on biological considerations alone (migration patterns, reproductive seasons, etc.) at best can overlook the legitimate concerns of minority cultural groups, and at worst can be employed intentionally as cover for inequitable distribution schemes.  Examples discussed in the paper include the 80-year history of conflict in Alaska over the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which by banning waterfowl hunting during nesting season effectively banned all Inuit harvests of these birds yet permitted hunting in the lower 48 states.  Also examined are examples from pre-Boldt Decision conflicts over Native American salmon fishing in which gear-type and escapement restrictions were deployed as covert allocation measures, until the Supreme Court noted that, even though the regulations appeared facially neutral, they were invalid because their effect was to discriminate.  An examination of conflict over Inuit and Makah whaling indicates how the insertion of needs-based criteria into a framework of cultural rights shifts the benefits of presumption away from indigenous groups.  This shift is a key factor in the legal standing of a right to culture, as those without presumption carry the burden of proof.  Thus, in the needs-based framework, the onus is on minority cultural groups to prove need, while in a rights-based framework, the regulatory agency must prove why a right should be curtailed.

Considering the substantial changes to Native American cultures under the processes of colonization, any contemporary discussion of a right to culture must also include issues of cultural revival.  The paper uses Makah whaling to explore the issues involved in cultural revival, indicating how conflicting notions of tradition, authenticity, morality, and self-determination complicate the process of producing resource policies that effectively manage biodiversity while recognizing and accommodating cultural diversity.  The paper will be published in a special issue of the journal Cultural Dynamics devoted to emerging concepts of a right to culture.

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