Northern Abalone: Using an Invertebrate to Focus Marine Conservation Ideas and Values
Abstract:Marine invertebrate species have usually been overlooked in favor of high-profile vertebrate species for facilitating dialogue towards area conservation. The northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) is proposed as a focal ("flagship") species whose protection and recovery could concentrate public concern for abalone and its associated kelp forest ecosystems in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia. I explain how issues of culture, commerce, and conservation unite to create a strong role for northern abalone in preparations for creating a large marine conservation area within Haida Gwaii. Culture is relevant, as local indigenous people (the Haida) are currently denied access to constitutionally established subsistence fishing rights for northern abalone. Commerce is involved as ongoing kelp forest-associated fisheries co-occur with northern abalone. Finally, this is a challenging precedent in Canadian marine conservation, as restoring two "listed" species at risk (northern abalone and their predator, the sea otter (Enhydra lutris)) is potentially mutually exclusive. As part of the forthcoming public consultations towards establishing a marine conservation area, the opportunity provided by northern abalone to focus ideas and values should be seized.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Parks Canada, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Queen Charlotte, British Columbia, Canada
Publication date: April 1, 2004