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The Public Perception of

Fisheries Management
Kelsey Schultz, Kelsi Furman, Megan
Munkacsy, Thomas Heimann

Fishing in Washington
Commercial
Value added: $326 Million
Finfish Harvest: $91 Million

Recreational
Value added: $292 Million

(173 Million Pounds)

6,000 Harvest Jobs (1/10th of
Seafood industry)

4,000 Jobs created (219,000
anglers)

Fishing in San Juan Islands

North Puget Sound:
800,000 Lbs of Crab (85% of statewide recreational catch)
$2.9 Million in Salmon landings (27% of state landings
value)

San Juan Islands MPAs

Does public perception in SJI suggest a
shifting baseline?
● Policy success is limited by
public support
● Policy is targeted at fisheries
biology
● Lacks recognition of
sociocultural value

● Long history of marine interaction
through fisheries
○ Shifting Baseline?
● Does the shifting baseline
influence the publics perception
of management succes and MPA
support?

Methods
● Surveyed the public to understand:
o
o
o

Management priorities
The San Juan fisheries
The area’s sociocultural and economic values

● We quantified
o
o
o

fishing experience
personal observations
attitudes towards management

The
Survey

The Map
● Asked the
public to
express
their ideal
MPA
location

Historical Data
● Used scientific
literature and
government websites
to determine
o
o
o

Management in the
area
Fish stocks
Shifting baselines

Fish Species



Lingcod (Ophiodon elongates)
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Puget Sound Rockfish (Stebastes emphaeus)
Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis)

Recreational Fishing Data

Rockfish and Lingcod Catches

Salmon Catch Over
Time in the San Juans

Personal Fish Preference

Chinook Salmon
Economy

“To allow us to fully educate
the public on the importance
of fishing, I would like the
Commission to summarize
the economic benefit that our
commercial and recreational
fisheries provide the state.
While sustainable fishing
practices must be consistent
with conservation needs of
the fish, both fisheries have
an important economic role,
particularly in our rural
communities.”
-Gov. Christine Gregoire

Management Perceptions in the SJI

Fishermen’s Perceptions of MPAs

Shifting Baselines

Ways Forward
● Difficult to establish a historical baseline as most records
date back to time when human influences were already
significant
● Not enough accurate historical data available for Washington
● Recreational data shows intense fishing began in
Washington around 1970’s

Ways Forward
● Since 1970’s there has been an obvious
decline in fish landings in WA
● Ecosystem indicators based on catch aren’t
as reliable, but are still useful to infer
exploitation and management results

Ways Forward
● The use of historical data reveals the extent to which humans
have altered fish populations which may lead to more
precautionary and conservative management
● Historical data may encourage public involvement by
demonstrating the serious population declines revealed by
historical data
● Easy tool to communicate goals to stakeholders

Future Management
● Involve locals in planning of MPAs
● Make clear, easy to understand objectives of plan
● Address issues of fishing by tribal communities in closed
areas
● Management must also control for other ecological factors