Gitksan commercial salmon fisheries along the Skeena river, British Columbia, Canada

Resource System
River ecosystem
Resource Units

The Gitksan commercial salmon fisheries are located in west central British Columbia, Canada along a 200 kilometre length of the upper Skeena River in six reserve communities including: Kitwanga, Kispiox, Kitsegukla, Kifwancool (Gitanyow), Gitanmaax (Hazelton), and Sikadoak (Glen Vowell). The Gitksan community participates in the Skeena Fisheries Commission which works to coordinate a number of aboriginal and government agreements amongst fishing communities along the Skeena River. The community is comprised of approximately 5,000 locally resident Gitksan with about half living within the reserve and half living off-reserve. The local management institution in this case is comprised of 56 actively fishing house chiefs who exercise the right and responsibility of managing and controlling timing and access to fishing spaces for their kin groupings of extended family members as well as protection of fish habitat.

This case is detailed in Chapter 6 of the original case study by Pinkerton and Weinstein (1995). Although the case mentions that the Gitksan also engage in subsistence fishing activities, the original case study authors focused on the commercial fishing activities and particularly the institutions which govern those activities. The case study has subsequently been used in comparative analyses regarding Ostrom’s Design Principles (see bibliography).