Fisheries in the Pacific Northwest: Biology and Political Ecology

Spring 2022
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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Resource use in the Pacific Northwest is characterized by close and complex connections between ecological systems, socio-political systems, and cultural systems. In this program we will explore culture, politics, society, and ecology through the lens of fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. Our focus will be on Indigenous fisheries, exploring their history, cultural significance, management, and the socio-political systems that have influenced them from pre-colonial times through the present day.

Students will be introduced to fisheries biology including ecology, population biology, and fish stock restoration. We will cover basic quantitative techniques in ecology and the study of harvested populations. Indigenous fisheries are dynamic and we will look at this history from pre-colonial community-based management through the European management model to present management models that have attempted to recapture some of the sustainable, community-focused elements from those early fisheries. Effective fisheries management requires bringing together a variety of people with different goals and values so this program will cover environmental problem solving, introducing students to different frameworks and discussing the basic psychology behind this process.

Students will also be introduced to political ecology, which is an analytical framework for studying nature-society interactions that is attentive to power dynamics and how they shape environmental change and discourses about them. Questions about who has power and who is marginalized, and consequently who benefits and who loses from particular governance frameworks, environmental narratives, and policy solutions, are important in political ecology. In the context of PNW fisheries, we will examine the history of settler colonialism and consequent struggles for self-determination on part of Native tribes and nations and how these historical and contemporary power dynamics have impacted fishing rights as well as fish stock in the region. We will also examine how PNW fisheries are related to cultural identity, Indigenous sovereignty, health, and contested ideas about nature, sustainability, and development.

In this program students will build analytical and critical skills through readings, workshops, case studies, films, and writing assignments.



Prerequisites: at least 1 quarter of Introduction to Environmental Studies or equivalent. Equivalent would be 4 credits in ecology or environmental science and 4 credits in social science (which should include geography, political economy, or environmental justice)

Spring 2022 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16): 30142
Jr - Sr (1 - 16): 30379

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

conservation biology, fisheries biology, natural resource management, political ecology

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$50 required lab fee

Upper Division Science Credit

Students who come in with at least 8 credits of college-level general biology can earn 6 upper-division science credits in this program on successful completion of a project analyzing a specific fishery.


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting



Date Revision
2022-02-22 $50 required lab fee added