Graduation Date

Fall 2018

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources: option Environmental Science and Management

Committee Chair Name

Laurie Richmond

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Erin Kelly

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Yvonne Everett

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Science and Management


Community development scholars have consistently highlighted the importance of social capital – the glue that keeps a community together – for the development and long-term sustainability of rural communities. There has been less discussion about the role of social capital in fishing communities. This thesis explores the historical trajectory of social capital in Shelter Cove, CA, a small, remote fishing community with an attempt to understand how the type and level of social capital have and may continue to affect the progress and sustainability of the community.

Data for this thesis were collected as part of a strategic planning effort in the Shelter Cove fishing community that documented community members’ perceptions of the current state of this fishing community and recommendations of how things could be improved. Interview data from the Shelter Cove Fishing Community Sustainability Plan (FCSP) were analyzed to provide the 2017 to 2018 context of participants’ perceptions of the fishing community. Research methods included semi-structured interviews with 50 individuals, three public workshops, and document review and archival research. These data were paired with additional document review and historical analysis of the path that led the community to its current state of social capital. Both of these data streams were qualitatively coded to find emergent themes. Social capital emerged as an area for capital asset development that had been strong historically, but that has eroded over time as a result of a multitude of events that left the fishing community less resilient to unforeseen changes. This thesis provides general pathways and recommendations for rural fishing communities to invest further in their social capital assets through both bonding and bridging social networks to prepare them to be more sustainable fishing communities in the future.


Original degree title: Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location