A major problem worldwide is the rapid change in species abundance and distribution, which is rapidly restructuring the biological communities of many ecosystems under changing climates. Tracking these transformations in the marine environment is crucial but our understanding is often hampered by the absence of historical data and by the practical challenge of survey large geographical areas. Here we focus on the Mediterranean Sea, a region which is warming faster than the rest of the global ocean, tracing back the spatio-temporal dynamic of species, which are emerging the most in terms of increasing abundances and expanding distributions. To this aim, we accessed the Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) of small-scale and recreational fishers reconstructing the dynamics of fish perceived as ‘new’ or increasing in different fishing area. Over 500 fishers across 95 locations and 9 different countries were interviewed and semi-quantitative information on yearly changes in species abundance was collected. Overall, 75 species were mentioned by the respondents, being the most frequent citations related to warm-adapted species of both, native and exotic origin. Respondents belonging to the same biogeographic sectors described coherent spatio-temporal dynamics, and gradients along latitudinal and longitudinal axes were revealed. This information provides a more complete understanding of recent bio-geographical changes in the Mediterranean Sea and it also demonstrates that adequately structured LEK methodology might be applied successfully beyond the local scale, across national borders and jurisdictions. Acknowledging this potential through macro-regional coordination, could pave the ground for future large-scale aggregations of individual observations, increasing our potential for integrated monitoring and conservation planning at the regional or even global level.
Local or Traditional Knowledge
For millennia Indigenous communities worldwide have maintained diverse knowledge systems informed through careful observation of dynamics of environmental changes. Although Indigenous communities and their knowledge systems are recognized as critical resources for understanding and adapting to climate change, no comprehensive, evidence-based analysis has been conducted into how environmental studies engage Indigenous communities. Here we provide the first global systematic review of levels of Indigenous community participation and decision-making in all stages of the research process (initiation, design, implementation, analysis, dissemination) in climate field studies that access Indigenous knowledge. We develop indicators for assessing responsible community engagement in research practice and identify patterns in levels of Indigenous community engagement. We find that the vast majority of climate studies (87%) practice an extractive model in which outside researchers use Indigenous knowledge systems with minimal participation or decision-making authority from communities who hold them. Few studies report on outputs that directly serve Indigenous communities, ethical guidelines for research practice, or providing Indigenous community access to findings. Further, studies initiated with (in mutual agreement between outside researchers and Indigenous communities) and by Indigenous community members report significantly more indicators for responsible community engagement when accessing Indigenous knowledges than studies initiated by outside researchers alone. This global assessment provides an evidence base to inform our understanding of broader social impacts related to research design and concludes with a series of guiding questions and methods to support responsible research practice with Indigenous and local communities.
Novel approaches are required to estimate the bycatch associated with artisanal fisheries. Foremost among these is the use of fisher knowledge (FK). An interview survey was conducted in ports along 2631 km of the Peruvian coast to assess the spatial patterns and bycatch rates of marine megafauna of the artisanal longline fishery and its relation with vessel characteristics and fishing operations. The survey allowed the assessment of 18% of the fleet, while only 1% of the Peruvian longline fleet has been monitored with on board observations in the past. The results indicate that big vessels (higher capacity, longline length and number of hooks) that travel long distances (average distance to coast: 123 nm) mainly catch turtles and show a small amount of seabird bycatches in north‐central Peru. Small vessels especially impact turtles in southern Peru and near the coast (63 nm on average). Contrary to previously published information, which indicates a low level of cetacean bycatch in this fishery, a group of fishers reported more than 1000 cetaceans were incidentally captured in 2009. Using FK allowed to integrate different sources of information and scale the implications of artisanal fisheries in terms of bycatch. FK could further be used to help managers deal with the uncertainties in the dynamics of these generally data‐ poor social‐ecological systems.
Bringing western science and policy together with Traditional Knowledge and values from indigenous communities for ocean planning is lacking and a framework is needed. This article articulates indigenous perspectives about the ocean and a culturally appropriate methodology developed in the Bering Strait region for a visioning process that can be used to bridge western and indigenous value systems. Recommendations for an indigenous approach focused on inclusion, the examination of values, adequate representation, and Tribal direction in ocean planning and policy are made. This approach is needed to move forward on a path to achieving more equitable, sustainable and inclusive ocean planning for the future.
Artisanal fishermen use ethnoclimatologic knowledge to make prognoses that ensure the achievement of successful fishing, under safe conditions. This study aims to analyze the ethnoclimatologic knowledge of artisanal fishermen in southeastern Brazil from nature signs and weather indicators, identifying the interference of these signals and natural events on the coastal environment and the artisanal fishery. Between October and November 2016, 80 ethnographic interviews were conducted with fishermen based at the Farol de São Thomé port (22°02′S), and the results were analyzed with triangulation and SWOT methods. Most fishermen (97.5%, n = 78) observe the micro and mesoclimatic conditions, oceanographic, and astronomical conditions prior to fishing to avoid “bad weather” and to be successful in catching fish. The fishermen (96.2%, n = 77) indicate “storm swells” that damage the vessels and cause erosion; and the “sea-level advancement and retreat” that reaches in the local of berthing of vessels and the coastline and the buildings on the seashore. They suggested solutions for the protection of the coastline from these natural events: i) the use of ethnoclimatologic knowledge by the public authorities and local managers, made possible through meetings between the interested parties; and ii) periodic maintenance of the breakwater located at the exit of the Flechas Channel for better control of the inflow and outflow of seawater within the channel. The combination of ethnoclimatologic and scientific knowledge in southeastern Brazil can provides subsidies to the National Plan of Coastal Management of Brazil, providing resilience to the artisanal fishing in the region.
Abundance is commonly used to assess the status of wildlife populations and their responses to changes in management frameworks. Monitoring abundance trends often requires long-term data collection programs, which are not always carried out. One alternative to scientific surveys is to utilize the local ecological knowledge (LEK), from people in continuous interactions with the environment. We developed a semi-quantitative approach to assess shark population trends by using the LEK of non-extractive resource users. We carried out structured interviews with dive guides regarding the abundance trends of six shark species in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) across decades since the 1980s. Based on dive guides' LEK, we developed a virtual abundance change (VAC) model to assess the changes in abundance across decades. Our VAC analysis showed a 50% decline in hammerhead sharks and 30% decline in whitetip reef sharks. Silky sharks and Galapagos sharks were perceived to suffer an initial decline by 25% and 30% then stabilized. Whale shark abundance did not appear to have changed. Finally, blacktip sharks showed an apparent recovery after a decline by 25%. Furthermore, our VAC results were comparatively similar to empirical datasets from the GMR and neighboring protected areas of the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Our study highlights the value of LEK in assessing the state of marine resources in data-limited management regions. Our VAC method offers an alternative approach by which LEK can provide valuable insights into the historical trends of species abundance.
The people of Oceania have long relied on the ocean for sustenance, commerce, and cultural identity, which promulgated a sophisticated understanding of the marine environment and its conservation. Global declines in ocean health now require innovative solutions that can benefit from customary knowledge and practices, which in the past led to sustainable marine resource use. The resurgence of local stewardship, which incorporates customary practices and governance, has shown promise in many locations throughout the Pacific, although a complete return to past practices is not fully implementable owing to the loss of traditional knowledge, centralized governmental structures, economic development, and globalization. Hybrid systems that incorporate elements of customary and contemporary management can overcome some of these limitations to implementation of successful local management, and lead to greater food security, social cohesion, and the creation of an adaptive system that can potentially mitigate the effects of climate change and other stressors.
Today artisanal fishers working in Natura 2000 coastal protected sites face two major types of change: in marine resources, and the governance of their professions. Such transformations affect fishers’ livelihoods, identities and traditions, yet little is known about how these professionals elaborate on these changes – i.e., as continuities or discontinuities - in the narratives they produce as a group. Interviews and focus-groups with artisanal fishers and shellfish harvesters (n = 36) from the Portuguese Southwest coast were subjected to a two-step analysis. First, a textual analysis with Iramuteq helped select the themes directly related to marine resources and governance. Second, three main narratives - on algae, barnacles and fish - were reconstructed. These were then explored regarding: (1) narrative formats (stability, regressive, progressive, mixed); (2) whether/how these formats elaborated changes as continuities or discontinuities; (3) the roles attributed to Self and Others, and whether and how these legitimized the laws, opening avenues for change; and (4) whether narratives were unified or fragmented. This study illustrates how transformations are presented through various combinations of narrative formats, sometimes mobilized to resist and other times to legitimate legal institutional change. It shows how institutional change can be integrated into local narratives as a positive contribution through a process that implies re-constructing the collective identity and local traditions. Through a narrative approach, this paper offers an integrated examination of fishers’ concerns towards their professions and the laws regulating them, and provides useful insight into how and when marine governance is more/less likely to be legitimized.
Recreational fishing has taken place for centuries and is a globally popular activity, yet a lack of monitoring data means historical trends in recreational fisheries are often little understood compared to their commercial counterparts. We examined archival sources and conducted fisher interviews to examine changes in the Queensland recreational snapper (Chrysophrys auratus) fishery throughout its documented history. We extracted data spanning the past 140 years on technological innovations, catch rate trends, and social and regulatory change. Technological innovations were evident throughout the history of the recreational fishery. During the 1960s, 1990s and 2000s, several periods of rapid technological transition occurred, where a technology was adopted by >50% of recreational fishers within 10 years of its introduction. Since the 1960s, the timing and rate of adoption of fish-finding technology by recreational fishers has kept pace with the commercial sector. These technological advances have profoundly increased recreational targeting ability, but despite these advances, recalled recreational catch rate trends demonstrated significant declines over the course of the 20th century. While minimum size limits have been imposed on the snapper fishery for over a century, in contrast, the introduction of recreational in-possession limits only commenced in the 1990s. At this time, the beginnings of a societal transition was also observed, where longstanding ‘take-all’ attitudes towards fishing began to be replaced by a more conservation-minded ethic. This shift was driven in part by the changing regulatory landscape, as well as wider attitudinal change influenced by the media and shifting societal norms, although whether this led to a reduction in total recreational catch remains unclear due to a lack of fishery-wide monitoring data and the open access nature of the recreational fishery. This study demonstrates that in the absence of systematic data collection, archival sources and fisher interviews can contribute an interdisciplinary knowledge base for understanding and interpreting historical fishery trends.
Small-scale fishers on Caribbean coral reefs have exploited fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) for generations, but intense fishing has led to the loss of traditional aggregation sites. In many areas, the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of fishers has contributed greatly to the characterization of spawning aggregations and implementation of local conservation initiatives. TEK has identified more than 40 potential FSA sites along the coast of the Mexican Mesoamerican Reef. These sites have been characterised and scientifically validated, in some cases with traditional western science and in others, with a participatory citizen-science approach. The objective of this work is to compare the science and conservation outcomes at these FSA sites. We report that those FSA sites where scientific surveys were conducted without community participation remain unprotected. By contrast, the FSAs where local fishers were engaged in characterization and subsequent monitoring are now protected at the behest of the fishers themselves. Conservation initiatives to protect FSAs can be more effective through a combination of TEK, western science, and participatory citizen science involving local fishers.