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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Northwest Coast traditional salmon fisheries systems of resource utilization Berringer, Patricia Ann


The exploitation of salmon resources was once central to the economic life of the Northwest Coast. The organization of technological skills and information brought to the problems of salmon utilization by Northwest Coast fishermen was directed to obtaining sufficient calories to meet the requirements of staple storage foods and fresh consumption. This study reconstructs selective elements of the traditional salmon fishery drawing on data from the ethnographic record, journals, and published observations of the period prior to intensive white settlement. To serve the objective of an ecological perspective, technical references to the habitat and distribution of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus sp.) are included. The aim of the work is to assess the relationship of salmon technology complexes to ecological conditions at fishery sites. It is an examination of the operating principles in traditional systems of salmon production. A model of the fishery is suggested: during migration anadromous salmon pass through a number of time and space segments where they can be intercepted by fishermen. A coincidence of appropriate elements will define a fishery site, i.e., the characteristics of the prey, accessibility to resource locations, natural features of the environment, and the enterprise of fishermen. The interaction of these and their constituent variables provides a range of selective strategies to be used, analyzed in this study with reference to specific Northwest Coast ethnic divisions and geographic locations. Twenty-four ethnic or areal divisions within the Northwest Coast culture area were studied. The results of the research are presented in Part One supported by distribution maps and illustrative materials. Lists of reference tables for each of twelve systems of salmon production are contained in an Appendix. Part Two includes technical information about Oncorhynchus sp. and its habitat. Part Three is an analysis of social, ecological, and technological elements in several stages of inter-relation, including an interregional comparison in the final section. An Index of Salmon Abundance and a comparison of selected resource areas provide statistical evidence (Appendix II and III).

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