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.
Local or Traditional Knowledge
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.
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.