Publication Date

Spring 2022


“When the tide is out, the table is set” is a familiar saying among Native communities on the Northwest Coast of North America. This phrase encapsulates traditional ecological knowledge passed down for generations concerning intertidal marine resources. Recent archaeological excavations of shellfish gathering camps at Labouchere Bay confirm that ancient people may have followed similar principles throughout the Holocene (c.9,500 -2,500 years ago). For millennia, shellfish have been a highly reliable food source that helped support sedentary fisher-hunter-gatherer settlements. Although shellfish habitats represent highly predictable foraging opportunities, optimal foraging strategies must be carefully managed to avoid overharvesting. Collecting just enough to meet a family’s immediate needs ensured that humans and shellfish could sustainably coexist, and awareness of nature’s cyclical timeframe minimized the potential risk of consuming deadly algal toxins. The knowledge passed down from shellfish gathering camps such as Labouchere Bay has ensured that subsequent generations survived and flourished.


Northwest Coast, Shellfish Harvesting, Mariculture, Fisher-Hunter-Gatherer

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Emily Lena Jones

Second Committee Member

E. James Dixon

Third Committee Member

David Dinwoodie

Fourth Committee Member

William Taylor

Williams Dissertation 5-6-22.pdf (5289 kB)
Additional corrections to front matter

Williams Dissertation 5-6-22.pdf (5289 kB)