Developing a Problem Definition for Conservation of Pacific Salmon under Cooperative Management Regimes in Puget Sound, Washington and the Kuskokwim River, Alaska

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"Conservation has been put forth as the means to prevent or reverse what has been perceived as the 'salmon problem,' a problem commonly framed in terms of declining salmon abundance. In the United States, conservation is one of the guiding principles of natural resource management, enshrined in various legislative and bureaucratic mandates. However, the definition and elaboration of conservation inherantly entails social choices which are based upon our understandings of the biology and ecology of salmon and the impacts of human actions on the production of salmon. Our definitions of conservation are also embedded in the values and relative importance we attribute to the numerous and often conflicting human uses of salmon and the resources and habitat on which they depend. Additionally, these values and understandings may change over time. Given the diverse understandings, interests, and values that different individuals and groups hold of these things, consensus over the meaning and elaboration of conservation has not necessarily been forthcoming. This leads to additional concerns regarding how best to achieve conservation, and who should be empowered to make these decisions. "Co-management challenges the traditional ways in which the problem of fisheries management has been framed by increasing and diversifying the participation of various individuals and organizations in the management of natural resources. A new cadre of participants bring with them their own interests, unique perspectives, and understandings of the nature of the appropriate values and strategies to be pursued in fisheries management arenas. These multiple social realities often collide, leading to disagreements between participants as well as disagreements over the nature of disagreements (Dale 1989:62). This may expose the implicit frames, the bounded rationalities from which participants have defined the salmon problem. "This paper examines two case studies where, despite divergent legal rights, cooperative management regimes have emerged. The first focuses on the tribes of the Puget Sound region of Washington, and the second on the Native Alaskans in the Kuskokwim River drainage in Alaska. In Washington, as a result of extensive litigation, cooperative approaches to salmon management have been established between the tribes state management agencies. This contrasts with the situation on the Kuskokwim where aboriginal fishing rights were legally extinguished. Despite this, a cooperative organization, the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group (KRSMWG), has operated on the river since 1988."



IASC, common pool resources, fisheries--case studies, co-management, conservation, property rights, river basins