Sustainability Challenges in the Geoduck Clam Fishery of British Columbia: Policy Perspectives

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Abstract:

The geoduck clam fishery, worth approximately CDN $40 million 1 in annual landed value, is British Columbia's most valuable invertebrate fishery. This fishery has been co-managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Underwater Harvesters Association (UHA) since 1989. Earlier input control measures such as effort regulation, seasonal closures, and licenses failed to work effectively for more than ten years, resulting in excess fishing capacity, over harvesting, poor economic returns, and unsafe fishing practices. Output control measures such as the individual vessel quota system (IVQ) have, to some extent, proven successful in improving revenues, controlling excess fishing capacity, gaining compliance with regulations, and involving fishers in the joint decision-making processes. However, there are public concerns about a common property resource at risk of being dominated by a few UHA license holders. Additionally, there are concerns about the job losses resulting from IVQ implementation, as well as distribution and equity issues. This article traces and examines the policy context for fisheries management in the British Columbia (BC) geoduck fishery, discusses the major concerns surrounding the exploitation of long lived Methuselah's clams and concludes with areas for further research in sustaining this lucrative fishery.

Keywords: British Columbia; IVQ; co-management and sustainability; geoduck clams; property rights

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08920750600860548

Affiliations: The Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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