Eric Angel

I came to SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management (REM) after 15 years as an historical consultant.  I had helped to found and grow a successful research firm, Public History Inc., had led over a hundred research projects, and had written several dozen technical reports.  However, I was tired of looking backwards.  I wanted to learn and think deeply about our collective future on the planet, the connections between people, ways of living and the natural environment.  REM gave me that opportunity.

My REM research had me conducting fieldwork in northern BC, based out of the small coastal city of Prince Rupert.  It’s an astonishingly beautiful part of the world.  I hung out with fishermen and folks who work in the fishing industry.  I watched and listened and asked questions that get at the kinds of things I’m interested in: sustainability, equity, wellbeing, and governance.  These are hot topics, not just in fisheries management.  I feel like my research is connected to the wider world.  I also do a lot of historical research.  I’ve read pretty much every article on salmon fisheries in The Fisherman from 1969 to today.  I’ve also collected thousands of historical documents and obscure publications dating back to the 1960s.

I’ve been able to do this with a great deal of support from the research network I belong to.  The Canadian Fisheries Research Network (CFRN) is an NSERC funded research initiative that brings together academics, scientists and managers from government, and fishing industry representatives from the Pacific and Atlantic coasts as well as the Great Lakes.  Fishermen’s organizations played a major role in identifying the research questions that students like me are pursuing and they continue to be closely involved in the research as it unfolds.  My project was focused on the Skeena River salmon fisheries in northern BC and, in particular, the small boat gillnet fleet, represented by the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union.  I worked closely with the union, as well as two other fishermen’s organizations, the Northern Native Fishing Corporation and the Native Brotherhood of BC.

Through the CFRN I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate closely with colleagues across the country in the development of a comprehensive framework for evaluating the sustainability of fisheries in Canada.  It’s been a hugely fulfilling exercise in interdisciplinary collaboration.  For several years now I’ve been involved with a student group at the UBC Fisheries Centre called FIMAR, which focuses on small scale fisheries (  During my studies I attended a two week Transdisciplinary Academy in Marine Resource Sustainability at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.  I also helped to organize an international conference on Historical Ecology.  All in all it’s been a pretty fun ride.

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