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Lake Sturgeon: The Historical Geography of Lake Winnipeg Fishery Commons

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hannibal-Paci, Christopher
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2105
Sector: Fisheries
Region: North America
Subject(s): IASC
water resources
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "In the province of Manitoba lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) is currently threatened, extirpated from most of its original range. This has occurred for a number of reasons. A major feature has been the removal of control over the resource from the local level. Capitalization and resource extraction by outside interests has been allowed and encouraged by Canadian governments. Compounding this, a gap existed between local fisheries overseers and centralized Fisheries Department decision-makers who used incomplete and fragmented knowledge at critical junctures in the development of the sturgeon fishery. Finally, over-lapping uses for resources and development of some resources at the expense of others, i.e. hydro-electrical development, have negatively impacted fish populations and habitats. Few researchers have examined the transformation of resources from common property to commercial commodity. Cree and Ojibwe management of lake sturgeon is reconstructed as the basis for understanding the history of sturgeon fishing and its management on Lake Winnipeg, challenging some of the conventional wisdom and history about the transformation. The paper crosses boundaries of history, zoology and fisheries management theory to reexamine the sturgeon problem, incorporating divergent perspectives, including Cree and Ojibwe management systems. The most recent efforts to manage lake sturgeon in Manitoba have been with both formal and informal co-management, one response to a long history marked by successes and failures. The most significant result is a patchy pattern of over-exploitation, limited fishery closures, culminating in an overall decline in sturgeon populations. The paper begins with an examination of changing human-resource relations and the historical commons."

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