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Enhancing Ecosystem Resilience: Integrating Social and Natural Sciences

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    Dr. Natalie Ban University of Victoria

The effect of future risks, including climate change, depends on the current condition of ecosystems, which are influenced by past and ongoing human activities.

This project investigates the extent to which fishing has altered ecosystems during the last half century, using the Central Coast of British Columbia as a case study exemplifying remote First Nations across Canada. Fishing has strong negative impacts on species that are long-lived, take a decade or more to reproduce, and spend most of their lives in small areas of specialized habitat. The focus is on two types of groundfish, (rockfish and lingcod), which are ecologically important predators, have experienced intense fishery exploitation, and are culturally significant to First Nations. Of particular concern are several species of rockfish which have very slow life histories (lifespans of a century or more) and thus are particularly vulnerable to overfishing.

Impacts of the project to date include:

  • Developing partnerships with four First Nations
  • Engaging First Nation groups as knowledge-holders and end-users in the research
  • Hiring community members to assist with planning and advertisements of the workshops in their communities


  • Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance
  • Hakai Institute


  • John Volpe University of Victoria


  • Lily Burke University of Victoria
  • Lauren Eckert University of Victoria


  • Fisk,Aaron,Lambert,Adrien,Monahan,Adam,. 27042016, Pub Test, Journal, 32523634,http://google.ca/.

This research will support policy-making by providing the scientific and traditional knowledge basis – and knowledge exchange between them – for finalizing the marine use plans developed by four First Nations on the Central Coast.

Shorter-term outcomes include methods for combining social science, natural science and traditional ecological knowledge, applicable on all three of Canada’s oceans.

This research is particularly important to First Nations and marine planners, by providing information on the extent of observed and anticipated interactions between ecosystem changes and climate change. Finally, this project will train graduate students to carry out robust interdisciplinary research, thereby benefiting Canada.