Cat Harbour Cod Fishery, Newfoundland, Canada

Resource System
Marine ecosystem and food web
Resource Units
Cod (lobster, salmon, and seal)

Cat Harbour (now known as Lumsden) was a rural fishing community located on a peninsula stretching into the Atlantic off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, Canada. The original case study is based on fieldwork conducted from 1964-1965 and catalogs an action situation involving 21 fishing crews that had 72 active fishermen during the summer cod-trapping season and 38 active fishermen exploiting the late summer/fall cod fishing grounds. The community is described as homogenous and egalitarian with a pronounced absence of clearly defined authority positions and a lack of local government. Informal rules act to suppress the accumulation of power by individuals and enforce a view of any outsider as untrustworthy and dangerous. There was evidence that exogenous factors were increasingly undermining traditional forms of resource exploitation and social structure. The case author anticipated that changes by exogenous factors would accelerate due to the Canadian government's proposed relocation of the community. The case author recorded that for the period under study, educated youth leave to pursue teachings, trades, and professions for which the outport had no demand. The resource system is the marine ecosystem and food web from which the following resource units flow and are appropriated: cod and, to a lesser degree, lobster, salmon, and seal. Overall, this case can be deemed successful since no appropriators/actors or subgroups were consistently disadvantaged in this system. 

This case study is part of the original Common-Pool Resource (CPR) database. A summary of the original CPR coding conducted in the 1980s by Edella Schlager and Shui Yan Tang at Indiana University may be found under the CPR tab in the Institutional Analysis section below.