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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A tale of two committees : evaluating collaborative management planning in Canada's Pacific groundfish fisheries Davis, Neil


Governing agencies increasingly employ collaborative forms of decision-making in fisheries management to improve decision quality and legitimacy. However, crafting fair and effective collaborative processes which will achieve these benefits is often difficult. In an effort to identify keys and obstacles to success, this research evaluated the Commercial Groundfish Initiative, a collaborative planning process tasked with reforming the management of Canada's Pacific groundfish fisheries. Using semi-structured interviews, I gathered the perspectives of participants from the two committees within the process: a consensus-based committee of commercial representatives and a committee broadly representative of other interest groups for which consensus was encouraged but not mandated. Control over the design of a proposal for management reform was asymmetrically divided between the two committees, giving the commercial committee the primary role. Participants from the commercial committee expressed high levels of support for their consensus process. Keys to this committee’s success in reaching a high quality agreement were (i) a strong incentive to cooperate, (ii) consensus decision-making, and (iii) independent process facilitation. The latter two functioned as security measures against the potential for process manipulation by participants or governing agencies. Results from an examination of the broader committee indicate non-commercial respondents were largely accepting of an “oversight” role provided that the scope for their input remained sufficient, which it did not. Early involvement in tasks such as designing the process and defining objectives were particularly critical to non-commercial respondents’ perceptions of procedural fairness and their ability to participate effectively. Several participants also raised concerns that the process was not appropriately representative of groups with an interest in groundfish management. The poor performance of the process in these respects overshadowed positive aspects of broadening participation beyond commercial users. Consensus approaches have gained currency among commercial participants as a result of their positive experience and made some of them more willing to consider meaningful collaboration with a broader range of interest groups. The ineffectiveness of the broader committee suggests there is still work to do in designing processes that will actually achieve this meaningful, broad collaboration.

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