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Risk and opportunity in British Columbia shellfisheries : the role of limited property rights in aquaculture development Joyce, Alyssa

Abstract

Marine governance in the 20th century has increasingly moved away from centralized state regulation of fisheries resources as common property towards the use of private property rights for regulation of marine resources. Aquaculture leaseholds, by allocating private property rights to former common property resources, have the potential to redistribute access to marine habitat and resources within that habitat. In British Columbia, Canada, shellfish aquaculture has been proposed as an attractive alternative or complement to wild shelifisheries, notably for its ability to improve the quality and volume of seafood produced with relatively few detrimental environmental effects. Shellfish aquaculture thus has the potential to provide significant economic benefits for coastal communities, though conflicts may emerge if aquaculture leaseholds impinge upon formerly productive wild sheilfisheries or impede access to other key coastal resources. In this dissertation, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to analyze spatial and temporal changes in the distribution of aquaculture leaseholds (tenures) for five coastal study sites in British Columbia. Interviews referencing GIS-produced maps, conducted between 2004 and 2007, examine the effects of aquaculture leaseholds on harvesting patterns in wild clam and oyster fisheries across five study sites, and explore local perceptions of the social, economic and environmental risks and benefits of shellfish aquaculture development. Using GIS analysis and interviews, the dissertation provides quantitative and qualitative information about the risks and benefits of changing access rights, while examining the theoretical implications of developing private property rights for aquaculture. Results indicate that the economic efficiencies of aquaculture development often outweigh - but do not displace or eliminate — coastal stakeholders’ concerns about changing resource uses and potential losses of access to wild fisheries and habitat. Results also suggest a disconnect between patterns of aquaculture development and reported perceptions of its risks and benefits. Interviewees’ perceptions of the risks of industry growth are therefore examined for potential determinants of whether political and legal resistance to the shellfish aquaculture industry is liable to intensify in British Columbia. Results are discussed in relation to policies aimed at improving environmental and social sustainability of the aquaculture industry and planning for coastal management.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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