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UBC Theses and Dissertations

More than fish : political knowledge in the commercial fisheries of British Columbia Butler, Caroline F.

Abstract

Through ethnographic research based primarily in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, this dissertation explores the ecological and social significance of commercial fishers' political knowledge. Moving beyond the ecological thrust of local knowledge research, this ethnography emphasizes the material and political basis of fishers' perceptions and understandings. The study focuses on the politicized experience of commercial fishers in resource management contexts and the way in which their knowledge is constructed and positioned by power relations, resource competition, and economics. Analyzing a series of local knowledge encounters in the fishing industry of British Columbia - moments of conflict between competing knowledges over issues of conservation, co-management, and research - this dissertation reveals the significance of fishers' political knowledge in determining their fishing behaviour and their reactions to fisheries policy and to fisheries research. Fisheries regulation is explored as the defining force impacting livelihoods of fishers and shaping their knowledge, by structuring fishers' interaction with the environment, and with each other. This dissertation historicizes, problematizes, and differentiates local knowledge, emphasizing the entanglement of ecological and political knowledge as forms of knowledge that are implicated in the construction of each other. This dissertation argues for a more holistic approach to fisheries knowledge research, which does not focus only upon the ecological knowledge of resource users. Rather than only asking fishers what they know about fish, researchers must ask them about fisheries in order to explore and resolve the structural problems of human resource use.

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