About Stephan Schott

Climate change is not only accelerating the melting of Arctic sea ice, it is also allowing access to virtually untouched fisheries of Arctic char, Arctic cod and northern shrimp. This shift is one of the main motivations for “Towards a Sustainable Fishery for Nunavummiut,” a collaboration between Public Policy and Administration Prof. Stephan Schott, biologists at Queen’s University, and hunters and fishers in Nunavut.

The four-year interdisciplinary research project — supported by $5.6 million from Genome Canada, a first for Carleton’s Faculty of Public Affairs — will attempt to strengthen food security in Nunavut. It is also exploring sustainable economic development opportunities for Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut) and assisting in the development of a co-management strategy for Arctic char and possibly whitefish for the hamlet of Gjoa Haven.

Schott recently secured two years of additional funding from Polar Knowledge Canada to supplement his portion of the Genome Canada grant and conduct an in-depth harvest study with hunters and fishers in Gjoa Haven. This study is the first of its kind, investigating the economics of harvesting and tracking hunters over two years to identify changes in harvest locations by season, hazardous areas and other wildlife observations. The work will inform a co-management strategy, help local authorities identify the true cost of hunting and fishing, and provide insights for possible revisions to the federal government’s Nutrition North food subsidy program.

Schott’s role as a social scientist is to lead consultations with the local community, while the biologists take care of the genetic work and fish sampling. “My responsibility,” he says, “is the integration of science with traditional ecological knowledge, the translation of genetic and scientific findings into public policy, and exploring social and economic benefits for Canada and for Indigenous communities in Nunavut.”

While fish may be the research’s primary focus, the larger social question is about food security, local capacity building and job creation, and how to reduce Nunavut’s dependence on expensive food imported from the south. These days, northern fishers aren’t always able to go out and fish as they once did, for both positive reasons (such as having a full-time job) and negative reasons (for instance, being unable to afford repairs and gas for their snowmobiles). The project will help identify ways to make fishing and hunting more viable. It will also investigate the potential for limited commercial fishing, which would create revenue through potential sales to stores and restaurants in the south, as well as trade in Nunavut.

Schott, who came to Carleton as a postdoctoral fellow in 2001, also conducts research on alternative energy solutions for remote and Indigenous communities, the economic impacts of extractive industries on local Inuit businesses and human development, and natural resource management and sustainable development in the Arctic.

“I am interested in developing and applying sustainability principles to energy systems, natural resource management and economic development,” he says. “My belief is that we need to act on a number of urgent issues such as climate change, fish stock declines, food insecurity and declining community well-being. My research closely involves end users such as communities, individual harvesters and local governments to come up with practical bottom-up solutions to pressing public policy issues. My research methods combine field work with experimental and empirical methods to provide solutions and advance academic theories in more meaningful directions.”

  • Project Co-Leader, Towards a Sustainable Fishery for Nunavummiut
  • Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University
  • Keynote speaker, Ontario Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, 2014
  • Panelist, “Canadian Arctic Riches: To preserve or exploit?” at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, 2014