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Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes Basin

Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes Basin

Socio-Economic Impact of the Presence of Asian carp in the Great Lakes Basin (PDF, 634 KB)

Prepared by
Salim Hayder, Ph.D.

Edited by
Debra Beauchamp

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Policy and Economics
501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N6

Table of Contents

Chapter 5: Social and Cultural Values of the Great Lakes

In addition to economic contributions discussed in Chapter 4, the Great Lakes provide considerable subsistence, social, cultural, and spiritual benefits to regional residents and contribute significantly to the economy as a whole. No comprehensive quantitative information/data was available on such benefits derived from the Great Lakes basin. However, this chapter presents a qualitative discussion of the socio-cultural values of the Great Lakes basin.

Harvesters of Great Lakes freshwater fish species and the communities involved in the harvests have long realized the importance of the resource to their communities, both for preserving traditional values and for subsistence purposes. Freshwater fisheries have contributed substantially to preserving traditional Aboriginal lifestyles in the study region, as fish harvesting is one of a few remaining primary economic activities providing a viable livelihood to support Aboriginal families and people. For many communities, commercial fishing helps maintain and reinforce family ties and traditions, and therefore is important for social and cultural reasons. Because of the inherent compatibility of the fisheries with traditional indigenous livelihoods, participation in this industry allows First Nations harvesters to participate in the modern economy without losing their cultural identity (Romanow, Bear & Associates Ltd., 2006).

Following the State of Michigan hook and line regulations and obtaining a Great Lakes subsistence license from the LTBB Natural Resources Department, tribal members in the State interested in fishing the Ceded waters of the Great Lakes for subsistence can harvest up to 100 lbs of fish per day via gill net, impoundment net, hook and line, or spear. Subsistence harvesters may have seasonal or geographic restrictions depending on the time of year and location of the harvests (Odawa Natural Resource Department, 2009).

LTBB of Odawa Natural Resource Department (2009) reported in its 2008/2009 Annual Harvest Report that, in 2009, eight of its tribal members obtained subsistence fishing licenses, with four reporting harvests. Three gillnet permits were issued in 2009. In 2009, reported species harvested included whitefish, lake trout, salmon, menominee, and herring. The aggregate harvest by subsistence license holders was difficult to quantify due to the difference in reporting between pounds of fish and number of fish harvested. Quantitative information on subsistence harvests from the Great Lakes basin is largely absent in both Canada and the US. However, the significance of subsistence harvests of freshwater species has been documented in a few studies (e.g. Ashcroft, Duffy, Dunn, Johnston, Koob, Merkowshy, Murphy, Scott, and Senik, 2006; Derek Murray Consulting Associates, 2006; Meyers Norris Penny, 1999) conducted in other regions in Canada.Footnote 84

In addition to providing a food source through subsistence harvesting, the harvest of freshwater species provides significant social benefits, particularly to Aboriginal communities, through the distribution of food among communities, providing linkages to traditional lifestyles and ancestors, and socialization. The social impacts of commercial fishing are significant in terms of both employment and cultural significance. These non-economic benefits are not only substantial, but also may even exceed the benefits of subsistence as a food source. Subsistence harvesting also contributes to traditional knowledge (GSGislason & Associates Ltd., 2006).

Socially, Great Lakes beaches and coasts provide a unique source of community pride, as they encourage diversified recreational activities. The beaches and coasts are the basis for the key public perception measure of environmental quality.

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