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Extramural Research

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Managing Nature: The Decline of Salmon in the Pacific Northwest

EPA Grant Number: U915206
Title: Managing Nature: The Decline of Salmon in the Pacific Northwest
Investigators: Pergola, Tanya
Institution: University of Washington
EPA Project Officer: Jones, Brandon
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1997)
Research Category: Fellowship - Sociology , Academic Fellowships , Economics and Decision Sciences



The objective of this research project is to examine a biological diversity issue to illustrate how environmental problems are created and acted on by society. I study declining runs of wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States to determine why stocks are declining, despite efforts to maintain salmon runs. I use the decline in the wild salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest to demonstrate how environmental problems have been organized in American society.


My data come from a variety of sources: (1) primary sources on salmon written by government agencies, nongovernment organizations, historians, policy analysts, and interdisciplinary researchers; (2) participant observation at seminars and conferences where salmon policy is constructed; and (3) interviews with hatchery workers, commercial fishers, sport fishers, fish biologists, managers, and others in the salmon arena. I use standard field research techniques to generate an inductively theoretical and empirical understanding of environmental problems. The data for this research project come from 2 years of field work. I use theoretical concepts from the sociology of science, organizational sociology, and environmental sociology to frame my findings.

I have found that a sociological contribution to the understanding of the salmon problem must take the larger view of the salmon arena and provide a critical look at the evolving conflicts among the arena's competing interests. I plan to address the "salmon crisis" by focusing on: (1) the intrascience conflicts within the salmon arena; and (2) the conflicting perspectives regarding what it means to "manage" a natural resource.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, salmon, Pacific Northwest, sociology.

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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