Dr Nigel Haggan

I grew up between the polite streets of middleclass protestant Belfast, the tidepools of Belfast Lough and the predominantly catholic mountain border country between the N and S of Ireland.  Early exposure to different cultures and environments and fourteen years working with Aboriginal people on the BC coast opened my eyes to profoundly different ways of being in the world.

I am privileged to work with natural and social scientists, humanists, theologians and Indigenous scholars to increase collective understanding of the sea as it was in the past, as it is today and what it might become under different trajectories of natural variability and human desire.  I am presently working on how to incorporate the immeasurable values of love, cherishing and protecting in environmental practice, policy and law.

Spiritual values are not peculiarities of 'other' cultures.  All cultures are reflections of spirit.

What we call 'cultures' emerge from relationships between people, animals, plants, lands and waters. Our engagement with the world is emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and economic. Spirit is the recombinant power of the universe. It is why a bird is not a fact, but a step between a dinosaur and something yet to be and a joy in itself. It is the 100,000 or so populations of Pacific salmon that came and went since the last Ice Age. It is the belief that drives the artist, scientist and mystic in all of us to face down the border police, to ask new questions. It is recognition of the difference between 'you' and 'me' and the spark that jumps between.

Belief that everything has a spiritual as well as a physical existence is consistent with grateful use and generosity, but not with depletion, extinction and environmental degradation. I grew up in Northern Ireland, so I agree with Richard Dawkins that religion should have no civil power, nor dictate education. That said, exclusion of 1,000s of years of spiritual and religious insights from environmental review, ecosystem management and response to climate change is at best, unwise. It allows the human values concealed in the price of a barrel of oil to dominate government and the price of a kilo of farmed salmon to distort BC fisheries out of all recognition.

Selected publications

Haggan, N., T’uy’t’tanat—Cease Wyss, and Haggan, E.R. [Illustrator] (2023) ‘True Stories—Shapeshifting between mode and metaphor’, Mantle: The Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Research, 1(1), 7–28.  Abstract.  Full text.

Haggan, N. and Haggan, E.R. [Illustrator] (2017) ‘Pipelines and the Poetics of Place: Bringing a fuller set of values into environmental assessment’, Langscape, 6(1), 65–69.  Full text.

Pierce (Director), J.R. and Haggan (Producer), N. (2017) Unsettling Environmental Review: Thoughts from the Pipelines and the Poetics of Place Project. Seannachie Productions, Vancouver. Watch Film,

Haggan, N. (2012) Becoming Indigenous: Measurable and Immeasurable Values in Ecosystem-Based Management. PhD, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. 210p. Abstract.  Full text.

Haggan, N., Jackson, G.D. and Lacroix, P. (2009) Salmon and Eulachon in Ecosystem Space and time: A Plea for Better Collaboration and Data Integration.  In: Challenges for Diadromous Fishes in a Dynamic Global Environment (ed Cunjak, R. et al.) American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. AbstractFull text.

Haggan, N., Ainsworth, C., Pitcher, T.J. and Heymans, J.J. (2006) Life in the fast food chain: sont les poissons d'antan?  Pages 51-74 in: Parrish, C.C., Turner, N. and Solberg, S. (eds) Resetting the Kitchen Table: Food Security, Culture, Health and Resilience in Coastal Communities. Nova Science, New York, 247p.  AbstractFull text.

Haggan, N., Neis, B. and Baird, I.G. (eds) (2007) Fishers' Knowledge in Fisheries Science and Management. UNESCO, Paris, 437p.  Contents.  Full text.

Haggan, N. and Neis, B. (2007) The changing face of Fisheries Science and Management.  Pages 421-432 in: Haggan, N., Neis, B. and Baird, I.G. (eds) Fishers' Knowledge in Fisheries Science and Management. UNESCO, Paris, 437p. Full text.

Pitcher, T.J., Morato, T., Hart, P.J.B., Clark, M., Haggan, N. and Santos, R. (eds) (2007) Seamounts: Ecology, Fisheries and Conservation. Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 536p. OverviewContents.

Haggan, N., Turner, N.J., Carpenter, J., Jones, J.T., Menzies, C. and Mackie, Q. (2006) 12,000+ years of change: Linking traditional and modern ecosystem science in the Pacific Northwest. UBC Fisheries Centre Working Paper #2006-02. AbstractFull text.

Haggan, N., Narcisse, A., Sumaila, U.R., Lucas, Chief Simon and Turner, N.J. (2005) Pacific Ecosystems, Past Present and Future: Integrating Knowledge and Values, Anticipating Climate Change. Society for Ecological Restoration International/Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network session, Zaragoza, Spain, September 12 - 18, 2005.  PowerPointConference paper.

Haggan, N. (2000) Back to the Future and Creative Justice. Pages 83-99 in, Coward, H., Ommer, R.E. and Pitcher, T.J. (eds) Just Fish: Ethics in the Canadian Coastal Fisheries. ISER Books, St. John's, 304p.  Full text.

Haggan, N. (1998) Reinventing the Tree: reflections on the organic growth and creative pruning of fisheries management structures. Pages 19-30 in: Pitcher, T.J., Hart, P.J.B. and Pauly, D. (eds)Reinventing Fisheries Management, Chapman and Hall, London, 435p.  AbstractFull text.