Mangroves, one of the major coastal ecosystems of tropical and subtropical regions, are critical habitats for fish and crustaceans, and provide a number of ecosystem services to people. While mangrove uses have been widely documented based on local ecological knowledge, seldom has this approach been used to analyse the mangrove-fishery relationship. By conducting semi-structured interviews (n = 82) with fishers in three different villages surrounding the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, the most important lagoon system in the Colombian Caribbean because of its size and productivity, we evaluated fishing activity over time, mangrove use and mangrove-fishery linkage, and fishing and gear spatial distribution. Respondents believed that mangroves are critical habitats for fishery resources because they function as nurseries, food source and reproduction areas, and considered that the resource would be in jeopardy in the absence of mangroves. While fishing is the main activity in mangroves, they are also used for firewood, construction and to make fishing gear, but how fishers use mangroves varies across villages. Fishing is concentrated close to mangroves (<20 m) and fishers' villages though there was some gear and species-dependent spatial variation across villages. Given that the system is highly degraded and conservation and fishery management plans are urgently required, we suggest combining scientific with local ecological knowledge in the planning and implementation of restoration and conservation plans to increase the chances of such programs being successful.
Local or Traditional Knowledge
Human impacts on the marine environment threaten the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people. Marine environments are a common-pool resource (CPR) and one of their major management challenges is how to incorporate the value of ecosystem services to society in decision-making. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) relate to the often intangible benefits people receive from their interactions with the natural environment and contribute to individual and collective human wellbeing. Priority knowledge gaps include the need to better understand shared values regarding CES, and how to effectively integrate these values into decision-making. We filmed 40 Community Voice Method interviews with marine stakeholders in two areas of the UK to improve on the valuation of coastal and marine CES. Results show that cultural benefits including sense of place, aesthetic pleasure and cultural identity were bi-directional, contributed directly to a ‘fulfilled human life’ and were associated with charismatic marine life and biodiversity. Other-regarding self-transcendence values were salient underscoring a desire for sustainable marine management. We critically reflect on our analytical framework that integrates aspects of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and IPBES conceptual frameworks. The thematic codebook developed for this study could prove useful for future comparative studies in other marine CES contexts. We propose that values-led management could increase the efficacy of marine planning strategies.
Fisher's knowledge offers a valuable source of information to run parallel to observed data and fill gaps in our scientific knowledge. In this study we demonstrate how fishers' knowledge of historical fishing effort was incorporated into an Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) model of the Irish Sea to fill the significant gap in scientific knowledge prior to 2003. The Irish Sea model was fitted and results compared using fishing effort time-series based on: (i) scientific knowledge, (ii) fishers' knowledge, (iii) adjusted fishers' knowledge, and (iv) a combination of (i) and (iii), termed “hybrid knowledge.” The hybrid model produced the best overall statistical fit, capturing the biomass trends of commercially important stocks. Importantly, the hybrid model also replicated the increase in landings of groups such as “crabs & lobsters” and “epifauna” which were poorly simulated in scenario (i). Incorporating environmental drivers and adjusting vulnerabilities in the foraging arena further improved model fit, therefore the model shows that both fishing and the environment have historically influenced trends in finfish and shellfish stocks in the Irish Sea. The co-production of knowledge approach used here improved the accuracy of model simulations and may prove fundamental for developing ecosystem-based management advice in a global context.
Local ecological knowledge (LEK) of resource users is a valuable source of information about environmental trends and conditions. However, many factors influence how people perceive their environment and it may be important to identify sources of variation in LEK when using it to understand ecological change. This study examined variation in LEK arising from differences in people’s experience in the environment. From 2014 to 2016, we conducted 98 semi-structured interviews with subsistence fishers and recreational charter captains in four Alaskan coastal communities to document LEK of seven fish species. Fishers observed declines in fish abundance and body size, though the patterns varied among species, regions, and fishery sectors. Overall, subsistence harvesters provided a longer-term view of abundance changes compared with charter captains. Regression analyses indicated that the extent of people’s fishing areas and their years of fishing experience were relatively important factors in explaining variation in fishers’ perceptions of fish abundance. When taken together, perspectives from fishers in multiple regions and sectors can provide a more complete picture of changes in nearshore fish populations than any source alone. These findings underscore the importance of including people with different types of expertise in local knowledge studies designed to document environmental change.
Climate change and biological invasions are rapidly reshuffling species distribution, restructuring the biological communities of many ecosystems worldwide. Tracking these transformations in the marine environment is crucial, but our understanding of climate change effects and invasive species dynamics is often hampered by the practical challenge of surveying large geographical areas. Here, we focus on the Mediterranean Sea, a hot spot for climate change and biological invasions to investigate recent spatiotemporal changes in fish abundances and distribution. To this end, 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 areas. Over 500 fishers across 95 locations and nine different countries were interviewed, and semiquantitative information on yearly changes in species abundance was collected. Overall, 75 species were mentioned by the respondents, mostly warm‐adapted species of both native and exotic origin. Respondents belonging to the same biogeographic sectors described coherent spatial and temporal patterns, and gradients along latitudinal and longitudinal axes were revealed. This information provides a more complete understanding of the shifting distribution of Mediterranean fishes 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 macroregional coordination could pave the way for future large‐scale aggregations of individual observations, increasing our potential for integrated monitoring and conservation planning at the regional or even global level. This might help local communities to better understand, manage, and adapt to the ongoing biotic transformations driven by climate change and biological invaders.
The dangerous effects of Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gears (ALDFG) is documented in the literature. However, there exists an overall lack of understanding in quantifying the pollution loads of fishing gears (FG) in territorial waters or on the beaches. The lack of data on FG life cycle results in mismanagement of one of the troublesome resources across the globe. In the remote and data-less situations, local stakeholders’ knowledge remains the only source of information. Therefore, in this article, we propose:
A methodology to extract fishers’ knowledge (FK) for generating evidence on FG handling and management practices in Norway.
The stepwise approach includes mapping of relevant stakeholders, drafting and finalizing a structured questionnaire using the Delphi method among experts to build the consensus and finally, statistically analyzing the recorded responses from the fishers.
The questions are designed to extract both qualitative and quantitative information on purchase, repair, gear loss and disposal rates of commercial FGs.
The responses from 114 Norwegian fishers are recorded, analyzed and presented as a part of method validation.
The evidence from the survey is then used as an input to coin the regional FG handling and management strategies in Norway. The presented method is proven a robust strategy to retrieve scientific information from the local stakeholders’ and can easily be replicated elsewhere to build global evidence around the ALDFG problematic.
In developing countries where data and resources are lacking, the practical relevance of local ecological knowledge (LEK) to expand our understanding of the environment, has been highlighted. The potential roles of the LEK varies from direct applications such as gathering environmental information to a more participative involvement of the community in the management of resources they depend on. Fishers’ LEK could therefore be useful in order to obtain information on how to advance management of coastal fisheries. Many targeted fish species migrate between habitats to feed, spawn or recruit, connecting important habitats within the seascape. LEK could help provide answers to questions related to this connectivity and the identification of fish habitat use, and migrations for species and areas where such knowledge is scarce. Here we assess fishers’ LEK on connectivity between multiple habitats within a tropical seascape, investigate the differences in LEK among fisher groups and the coherence between LEK and conventional scientific knowledge (CSK). The study was conducted in 2017 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, a tropical developing country. One hundred and thirty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted in six different locations focusing on fish migrations, and matching photos of fish and habitats. Differences between fisher groups were found, where fishers traveling further, exposed to multiple habitats, and who fish with multiple gears had a greater knowledge of connectivity patterns within the seascape than those that fish locally, in single habitats and with just one type of gear. A high degree of overlap in LEK and CSK was found, highlighting the potential benefits of a collaboration between scientists and fishers, and the use of LEK as complementary information in the management of small-scale fisheries.
Trophic models of the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) type and local ecological knowledge (LEK) have widely been applied to fisheries assessment and management. However, there are no specific methodologies describing how LEK from local fishers can be incorporated with the scientific data from the models in the context of ecosystem-based fisheries management. To our knowledge this is the first contribution exploring a systematic integration of LEK with EwE modeled output. An EwE food web model of the Nicoya Gulf ecosystem constructed 20 years ago and recently revisited by the authors and collaborators, was used in workshops to stimulate discussion among local stakeholders regarding changes in the marine ecosystem. For this study, 58 artisanal fishers were recruited to eight workshops. To assess the LEK, we documented the discussions, and the qualitative data were analyzed with quantitative frequency of responses to identify trends. Next, we systematically compared the changes in the fishery over time through an analysis of similar, complementary, and contradictory information across knowledge systems. In general, the analysis across systems reflected changes in species composition of the catches, paralleled by a harvest reduction in high-trophic-level species, as well as economic losses due to a shift in harvesting low-value species and due to an increase in operational costs. Particularly, we identified (1) similar pieces of information that delivered the same message, providing robust evidence of changes in the social–ecological system; (2) information complementary to each other, which together provided a broader picture (descriptors and attributes) of the changes of some fishing resources; and (3) conflicting pieces of information that indicated mismatches between sources of knowledge, which might suggest the cause of management problems. This study demonstrated how integrating knowledge systems can enhance our understanding of the state and changes in ecosystems, helping to improve fisheries management. We also found that an EwE model can be an effective communication tool to be used with fishers and to promote discussion and engagement. Our aspiration is to bring new and replicable tools to the policy interface in Latin-American fisheries, based on both stakeholder participation (including LEK) and the best scientific information available.
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.
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.