Broadening the Knowledge Base of Small-Scale Fisheries through a Food Systems Framework: A Case Study of the Lake Superior Region

  • Kristen LowittEmail author
  • Charles Z. Levkoe
  • Andrew M. Song
  • Gordon M. Hickey
  • Connie Nelson
Part of the MARE Publication Series book series (MARE, volume 21)


Lake Superior is the largest and northernmost of the Great Lakes of North America. It supports a diversity of wildlife and fish species, along with commercial, recreational, and Indigenous fisheries that make vital contributions to nutrition, livelihoods, cultures, and food systems. However, this diversity of social and cultural values is not fully reflected in management practices that tend towards a ‘resourcist’ approach. This chapter seeks to ‘broaden the scope’, proposing a food systems framework as a way of grappling with the wicked problem of Lake Superior fisheries governance. Using a food systems framework, we look at the different values associated with fisheries, including the objective, subjective, and relational contributions they make to Lake Superior food systems. We explore these food-related values attached to fisheries by presenting three illustrative examples: The fisheries of Batchewana First Nation; Eat the Fish, a small business marketing local fish through alternative food networks in Northwestern Ontario; and Bodin’s Fisheries in Wisconsin, a regional fish processor and retail outlet. We conclude by identifying ways of strengthening fisheries contributions to regional food systems and offer a set of transdisciplinary questions on fishery-food system linkages that may assist others in ‘broadening the scope’ of fisheries governance.


Food systems Small-scale fisheries Coastal communities Great Lakes Lake Superior 



We are very grateful to all the research participants who contributed their time to be part of this project. We also acknowledge conceptual input from the Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) research team. This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen Lowitt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charles Z. Levkoe
    • 2
  • Andrew M. Song
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gordon M. Hickey
    • 5
  • Connie Nelson
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of GeographyBrandon UniversityBrandonCanada
  2. 2.Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, Department of Health SciencesLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  3. 3.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.WorldFishHoniaraSolomon Islands
  5. 5.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversitySainte-Anne-de-BellevueCanada
  6. 6.Food Security Research NetworkLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada

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