Key Questions

We derived 32 key questions about herring social-ecological system from the participatory process during the Herring Summit. We present these questions organized by key nodes in the herring social-ecological system conceptualization.

Questions about broad social, political and economic forces

  1. How have global market forces influenced the commercial herring fishery? How have the markets changed over time?
  2. What are the social, cultural and political motivations for herring fisheries, and how have they changed over time?
  3. What is the relationship between herring fisheries and broader issues of indigenous rights?

Questions about human activities (and their effects on herring)

  1. What is relative influence of fishing, other human activities and climate on herring population dynamics, and how can the impacts be differentiated?
  2. What are the cumulative effects of human activities (fishing, coastal development, toxins, etc.), predators and climate on herring populations?
  3. What are causes of historical disappearance of herring, and is the current status of herring a lingering consequence of historical impacts?
  4. How does fishing affect spawn timing, and what impact does this have on population dynamics?
  5. What are the ecological, economic and cultural costs and benefits of alternative fisheries management strategies?

Climate questions

  1. How does global-scale climate variability related to El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation influence herring behavior and population dynamics?
  2. How is changing climate affecting herring populations?

Habitat questions

  1. Does the quantity and/or quality of spawning habitat determine herring productivity and population size?
  2. Does the artificial supplementation of spawning habitat (i.e., by trees or boughs) result in increases in the long-term median herring population size?
  3. Are herring using deeper spawning habitat? If so, why, and how does that affect their vulnerability to predation?

Institutional and governance questions

  1. How do policies and management strategies that address the spatial distribution of fishing effort and the temporal order of fisheries better account for aboriginal rights as codified by court decisions and law?
  2. What are the pros and cons of different temporal and spatial scales for adaptive herring decision-making?
  3. How would different forms of knowledge or inclusion varying individuals or groups alter definitions of overfishing thresholds and sustainable levels of fishing?
  4. What role can institutional processes play in better facilitating the rebuilding of herring populations?
  5. How can we allocate harvest in such a way that supports ecological, economic and cultural resilience?

Questions about herring and the herring food web

  1. Are herring vital rates (e.g., recruitment, mortality) or behavior positively or negatively density dependent? How has the nature of density dependence changed over time?
  2. How do the processes that determine or limit herring population size vary across spatial and temporal scales?
  3. What factors affect survival of herring eggs, larvae and young-of-the-year?
  4. How has size structure changed over decadal to millennial time scales, and what are the causes & consequences of such changes?
  5. What is the spatial structure of herring populations, and what factors influence the degree of connectivity among sub-populations? Has this changed over time?
  6. What factors influence interannual and interdecadal movement of spawning herring stocks?
  7. What is the role of genetic and life-history diversity in maintaining herring populations? How has this changed over time?
  8. What is the relative importance of bottom-up versus top-down processes for herring behavior and population dynamics, and how has this varied over time?
  9. What are cross-ecosystem linkages that influence herring, and how have they changed over time?
  10. How have changes in ocean productivity, predator abundance or other factors affected the long-term median biomass of herring?

Questions about human wellbeing

  1. What thresholds of herring abundance and distribution exist for meeting cultural objectives?
  2. How do the economic and cultural benefits associated with the harvest of sac-roe, spawn-on-kelp, adult fish for bait, and adult fish for food propagate through local and regional social systems? What are the consequences of this for equity and food security?
  3. What non-fishing human activities are supported by herring, i.e. what is the value of the supporting ecosystem services provided by herring?
  4. Is the trade-off between the value of herring to human wellbeing greater if herring remain in the ecosystem verus if they are harvested and removed from the system? How does this vary over the range of Pacific herring?