Small-scale fisheries in Canada's Arctic: Combining science and fishers knowledge towards sustainable management
In remote and data-limited situations such as encountered in Arctic regions, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is an important and valuable information source. TEK from local fishers (fishers knowledge, FK) is highly relevant to fisheries management. The integration of FK in fisheries assessments remains complicated by the lack of tools to combine scientific and FK observations. This study implements a productivity-susceptibility analysis (PSA) for assessing the risk from fishing to fish stocks and incorporate FK in the assessment process. The PSA method consists of scoring productivity attributes of fish populations and susceptibility attributes affecting fisheries exposure and intensity. The method can be adapted to incorporate FK on two levels: (1) in the validation of biological data (indirect inclusion); and (2) in the definition and scoring of independent FK attributes (direct inclusion). Risk scores measured along the productivity-susceptibility gradient serve to identify areas and populations most vulnerable to fishing activities and formulate science advice for prioritisation and management. We apply the method to small-scale fisheries for Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus in Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island, Nunavut. These fisheries are key to food security and economic growth in Canada's Arctic territories, yet management remains complicated by data paucity; by the widespread distribution and biological complexity of Arctic char stocks; and by growing uncertainties related to climate change impacts on Arctic fish and ecosystems. This paper demonstrates the usefulness of the method for combining science and FK information to improve management advice for Arctic char stocks, and applicability to other small-scale, data-limited fisheries.