3-12 Collaborative Fishery Management Opportunities Between Tribal and State Agencies

Monday, September 5, 2011: 4:30 PM
613 (Washington State Convention Center)
Marty Holtgren , Natural Resources Department, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Manistee, MI
Nancy A. Auer , Department of Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI
Tribal and State of Michigan fishery managers have great potential to collaborate towards management of fisheries in both Great Lakes and inland waters.  In 2007, five Tribal governments and the State of Michigan negotiated an Inland Consent Decree that reaffirmed certain rights of the Tribes and provided for their agencies to conduct biological assessments.  This Decree ultimately allowed for collaboration of Tribal and State agencies towards more unified management strategies that better meet the needs of all parties.  However, effective implementation of this provision may not be realized until all parties mutually understand respective management priorities and focus areas.  Additionally, it has been expressed by both Tribal and State managers that understanding why these management perspectives are held is critically important to succeed in collaborative efforts.  The GLFT has funded this research in which 24 semi-structured interviews from State and Tribal biologists and administrators were conducted to explore the concept of how the respective agencies viewed biological assessments.  Two main themes emerged regarding biological assessments as important because they could be 1) applied to fishery management and 2) they possess social benefits.  For the first major theme, “Apply to Management” State participants identified the importance of biological assessment data as being used as a predictive mechanism, for ecosystem management, to evaluate projects financially, to evaluate stocking, and ensuring and preserving the fishery resource.   Respectively, Tribal participants identified preventing over-harvest and understanding the impacts of harvest, informing on policy decisions, ensuring and preserving the fishery resource, informing on habitat restoration projects and used as a protective mechanism.  For the second major theme, “social benefits” the State identified developing harvest opportunities and being an information tool for the public as important whereas the Tribes identified public relations, developing harvest opportunities, and building scientific and public credibility.  These findings demonstrate that concordance exists in the general concept of how biological assessments are important to the agencies while differences exist in specific perceptions within the main themes of management and social benefits.  For example, Tribal agencies viewed conducting biological assessments as a tool to develop understanding and positive perceptions between their agencies and the public while the State identified using these data for informing the public.  Understanding such similarities and differences will allow these agencies to more effectively communicate and thus partner in natural resources management.