Fisheries Privatization, Sociocultural Transitions, and Well-Being in Kodiak, Alaska

Project Description

Scholars and fishermen alike view the privatization of fishing rights as a fundamental driver of change in fishing livelihoods and communities. Expanding upon ethnographic research conducted in rural fishing communities in the Gulf of Alaska, this project explores the social and cultural shifts linked to the privatization of fishing rights in the diverse fishing community of Kodiak, Alaska. This study has three primary objectives: 1) to understand how the privatization of fishing rights has been experienced across diverse human groups that participate in fishery systems, 2) to explore the relative importance and magnitude of the impacts of fisheries privatization compared with other ecological, economic, and technological drivers of change, and 3) to assess the relationship between the social and cultural shifts linked to fishery privatization and individual and community well-being. This ethnographic study, employing mixed methods of interviews, surveys, participant observation and archival research, provides rich qualitative and systematic quantitative data to assess how regulatory and related changes affect the social and cultural dimensions of fishery systems and fishing communities. This study also informs resource policy development. As fishery economists, managers, environmental groups, and popular media sources increasingly advocate for the widespread privatization of marine resources, the social and cultural implications of these transitions need to be explored and documented. The research will provide insights on how the diversity of livelihoods and values can be better accounted for in resource management policy.

Project Funding

National Science Foundation
Amount: $256,828
Start Date: 2010-09-00
End Date: 2014-08-00


Publications and products

Carothers, C., and C. Chambers. (2012). "Fisheries privatization and the remaking of fishery systems". Environment and Society: Advances in Research. 3:39-59.

Carothers, C.. (2015). "Fisheries privatization, social transitions, and well-being in Kodiak, Alaska". Marine Policy. 61:313–322.
doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2014.11.019


Research Team

Courtney Carothers

Courtney Carothers

Principal Investigator



  • Environmental Anthropology
  • Political Ecology
  • Marine Policy
  • Fishing Communities

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