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: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Sociology , Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice


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.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998
  • Final