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The Difference a Discourse Makes: Fisheries and Oceans Policy and Coastal Communities in the Canadian Maritime Provinces
Bigney Wilner, Kathleen
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A new approach to oceans and coastal governance – influenced by ecosystem-based management and resilience thinking, by spatial approaches to management and by decentralized or participatory governance – a policy of integrated management was defined in the years following the Oceans Act (1986). The motivation for this study arose from the resistance of project partners in the Coastal CURA (a five-year, SSHRC-funded, multi-partner research project designed to support coastal community engagement in resource governance) to the thinking and practice of government-supported “integrated management”. In response, I developed a conceptual framework for examining integrated management from a critical, community-based perspective, drawing on political ecology, geography and policy studies. I apply this framework to a study of policy discourses in the Canadian Maritime Provinces to examine: i) their role in framing what options, participants, and knowledges are included in fisheries and coastal policy, regulation and institutions; ii) how power relationships are enacted and how access to resources are altered through integrated management approaches to coastal resource governance; iii) community resistance through alternative discourses and models. Within this study, I use governmentality and critical policy analysis as tools for analyzing the retreat of the state on the one hand (through decentralized and participatory governance), and the application of new technologies of governance on the other, and for examining the effects these movements have on coastal citizens. By naturalising the state as the appropriate scale and competent party for managing coastal problems, coastal communities are framed out of governing the commons. However, this study demonstrates how counter-discourses can re-imagine communities, and their practices and knowledges, in a discursive policy struggle. This thesis situates these puzzles in three case studies, one of regional policy discourses and two community case studies in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Basin and Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick.