This study was conducted in the fishing community of the Cabedelo municipality (NE Brazil, Paraíba) and characterized the socioeconomic profile of the fishers, their local ecological knowledge and their main usage of fish species. Overall, 80 fishers were interviewed. Snowball, direct observation, guided tours, free interviews and structured and semi-structured questionnaires were used for data collection, which occurred from December 2010 to June 2011 in fortnightly visits to the city of Cabedelo. Most fishers ranged from 36 to 45 years, with low education and low income levels, and approximately 87% fished in the municipality. At least 33 fish species were recorded as important for family consumption and trade. The most commonly caught fish families were Carangidae, Mugilidae, Lutjanidae and Scombridae. The fishes most used for commerce were Lutjanidae, Scombridae, and Serranidae. Fishers demonstrated a high knowledge about the temporal distribution of fishes and categorized them as “fishes of summer”, “fishes of winter” and “fishes around all year”; fishes' vertical distributions were categorized as either “bottom fish” or “water flower”. Fishers also classified eating habits, some types of behavior and reproduction of most exploited species. Fishermen's understanding of the fish stocks distribution and fish ecology is potentially imperative for scientific knowledge and future shared management plans.
Local or Traditional Knowledge
In most small-scale fisheries, especially in developing countries, the collection of reliable fishing statistics is not regular, hampering traditional stock assessments. In those data-poor fisheries, a precise knowledge of resources co-occurrence at the ecosystem level, as well as the spatial mapping of fishing activities seem key to support management in a complex fishers-environment context. In the largest South Atlantic coralline reef, the Abrolhos Bank, fisheries are extremely diverse in terms of exploitation capacity, fishing gears, target stocks and operating areas, but any regional fisheries management is currently in place. The aim of this study was to assess, organize, and analyze fisheries of three snappers (Lutjanus jocu, L. synagris and Ocyurus chrysurus), and three groupers (Cephalopholis fulva, Epinephelus morio and Mycteroperca bonaci) along the Abrolhos Bank, with an ultimate goal of proposing useful management units. Surveys were conducted in the main fishing ports, including fishers' interviews and fish size measures in landings. Data analysis allowed a precise fishing characterization, a grouping of stocks co-occurrence, and the mapping of fishing spots and grounds. Three stocks and seven fishing areas clusters were obtained and defined statistically, suggesting useful management units. Specific fishers' groups per fleet were identified as the main stakeholders to be consulted in fisheries plans. Spatial units based on the occurrence of snappers and groupers stocks were defined, having the “Parcel das Paredes” the greatest number of fishing spots and the lower fish sizes. Overall, findings contain unprecedented fine scale resolution units that clarifies and simplifies the connections among species, fleets, fishing areas and fishers. They should also strength the call for action to implement fisheries management in a broader ecosystem-scale context.
In remote and data-limited situations such as encountered in Arctic regions, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is an important and valuable information source. TEK from local fishers (fishers knowledge, FK) is highly relevant to fisheries management. The integration of FK in fisheries assessments remains complicated by the lack of tools to combine scientific and FK observations. This study implements a productivity-susceptibility analysis (PSA) for assessing the risk from fishing to fish stocks and incorporate FK in the assessment process. The PSA method consists of scoring productivity attributes of fish populations and susceptibility attributes affecting fisheries exposure and intensity. The method can be adapted to incorporate FK on two levels: (1) in the validation of biological data (indirect inclusion); and (2) in the definition and scoring of independent FK attributes (direct inclusion). Risk scores measured along the productivity-susceptibility gradient serve to identify areas and populations most vulnerable to fishing activities and formulate science advice for prioritisation and management. We apply the method to small-scale fisheries for Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus in Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island, Nunavut. These fisheries are key to food security and economic growth in Canada's Arctic territories, yet management remains complicated by data paucity; by the widespread distribution and biological complexity of Arctic char stocks; and by growing uncertainties related to climate change impacts on Arctic fish and ecosystems. This paper demonstrates the usefulness of the method for combining science and FK information to improve management advice for Arctic char stocks, and applicability to other small-scale, data-limited fisheries.
Despite marine fish being an important food resource for coastal communities, the amount of fish caught by small-scale fisheries is unsustainable at many locations. Fish consumers have a critical role in species conservation because they can choose responsibly and avoid consuming overexploited or endangered species. In this study, local human consumption patterns and local knowledge about groupers and sharks caught by small-scale local fisheries were investigated in a Brazilian coral reef complex. Fish consumers were interviewed in a fish market setting regarding their monthly fish consumption, knowledge of endangered species, and strategies they do to consume fish responsibly. Of the 126 local fish consumers, 94% and 76% reported to buying sharks and groupers, respectively, on a monthly basis. The main strategies they used to consume fish responsibly were 1) getting fishmonger's advice and 2) buying fish on reliable fish markets. Our findings are important to understanding fish consumption preferences, which can contribute to the implementation of educational initiatives aiming to raise consumers’ awareness regarding responsible consumption.
Groupers are important components of coastal ecosystems as well as a valuable resource for fisheries. Their populations are known to be decreasing throughout the world primarily due to over-exploitation. However, even the basic data for an effective management strategy is lacking. Interviews of a representative sample of 113 fishers in Turkey in the northeastern Mediterranean were conducted with specific questions regarding fishing gears, periods and areas as well as best day's catch and the sizes of fishes caught. Fishermen recognized Epinephelus marginatus, E. aeneus, E. costae, Hyporthodus haifensis, Mycteroperca rubra and Polyprion americanus distributed in the area. “Endangered” E. marginatus and “Near Threatened” E. aeneus were the dominant species of the grouper fishery. Based on best days’ catch values and reported lengths of fish caught, the northern coasts of Iskenderun Bay were found to be important for both species. Demersal longliners, spearguns, traps, anglers and demersal trawlers were reported catching groupers in the study area. Artisanal fishermen, especially demersal longliners contributed the most to the grouper fishery. Fishing pressure were subject to seasonal fluctuations, with decreasing reported catches during summer when threatened groupers spawn. Finally, some critical aspects of fishery pressure were related to the removal of juveniles which may lead to reproduction loss.
Iñupiaq, Yup'ik, and Cup'ik hunters in 14 Alaska Native communities described a rapidly changing marine environment in qualitative traditional knowledge interviews conducted over the course of a decade with 110 individuals. Based on their observations, sea ice conditions are the most notable change, with later freeze-up, thinner and less reliable ice, and earlier and more rapid break-up. Marine mammal populations in northern and western Alaska have been affected by changes in the physical environment, with alterations to migratory timing and routes, distribution, abundance, health, and behavior. Despite these changes, marine mammal populations in the region remain generally healthy and abundant. For hunters, access is the biggest challenge posed by changing conditions. Sea ice is less safe for travel, particularly for more southerly communities, making hunting more dangerous or impossible. Rapid break-up has reduced the time available for hunting amid broken ice in spring, formerly a dependable and preferred season. Social change also affects the ways in which hunting patterns change. Increased industrial development, for example, can also alter marine mammal distribution and reduce hunting opportunity. Reduced use of animal skins for clothing and other purposes has reduced demand. More powerful and reliable engines make day trips easier, reducing the time spent camping. An essential component of adjustment and adaptation to changing conditions is the retention of traditional values and the acquisition of new information to supplement traditional knowledge. Our findings are consistent with, and add detail to, what is known from previous traditional knowledge and scientific studies. The ways in which hunters gather new information and incorporate it into their existing understanding of the marine environment deserves further attention, both as a means of monitoring change and as a key aspect of adaptation. While the changes to date have been largely manageable, future prospects are unclear, as the effects of climate change are expected to continue in the region, and ecological change may accelerate. Social and regulatory change will continue to play a role in fostering or constraining the ability of hunters to adapt to the effects of climate change.
The spawning dynamics of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) on Georges Bank and Nantucket Shoals are not well understood. To address this uncertainty, we combined Fishermen’s Ecological Knowledge (FEK) with traditional scientific data to develop a more holistic understanding of cod spawning on Georges Bank. Data from historical reports, trawl surveys, fisheries observers, and ichthyoplankton surveys were used to describe the spatial and temporal distribution of cod spawning activity. We also collected FEK regarding cod spawning dynamics through semi-structured interviews (n = 40). The fishermen had detailed knowledge of the spatial and temporal distribution of cod spawning, and identified persistent fine-scale (i.e. <50 km2) spawning grounds that were often associated with specific habitat features, including spawning grounds that were previously unreported in the scientific literature. The spawning seasons and locations identified by fishermen generally agreed with information from traditional scientific data, but it was evident that seasonal scientific surveys lack the spatial and temporal resolution needed to fully characterize the distribution of cod spawning activity. Our results will help inform management measures designed to promote the rebuilding of Georges Bank cod, and also provide a basis for further investigations of cod spawning dynamics and stock structure.
Knowledge of the extent and intensity of fishing activities is critical to inform management in relation to fishing impacts on marine conservation features. Such information can also provide insight into the potential socio-economic impacts of closures (or other restrictions) of fishing grounds that could occur through the future designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). We assessed the accuracy and validity of fishing effort data (spatial extent and relative effort) obtained from Fishers’ Local Knowledge (LK) data compared to that derived from Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data for a high-value shellfish fishery, the king scallop (Pecten maximus L.) dredge fishery in the English Channel. The spatial distribution of fishing effort from LK significantly correlated with VMS data and the correlation increased with increasing grid cell resolution. Using a larger grid cell size for data aggregation increases the estimation of the total area of seabed impacted by the fishery. In the absence of historical VMS data for vessels ≤15 m LOA (Length Overall), LK data for the inshore fleet provided important insights into the relative effort of the inshore (<6 NM from land) king scallop fishing fleet in the English Channel. The LK data provided a good representation of the spatial extent of inshore fishing activity, whereas representation of the offshore fishery was more precautionary in terms of defining total impact. Significantly, the data highlighted frequently fished areas of particular importance to the inshore fleet. In the absence of independent sources of geospatial information, the use of LK can inform the development of marine planning in relation to both sustainable fishing and conservation objectives, and has application in both developed and developing countries where VMS technology is not utilised in fisheries management.
Fisheries policy and management processes for federal waters off western Alaska currently lack consistent and considered integration of traditional knowledge (TK), TK holders, social science of TK, and subsistence information. The incorporation of these into fisheries work can lead to more informed, equitable and effective policy and management practices. This paper includes information and recommendations derived from previous work by the authors as well as from two community workshops with indigenous TK holders and fisheries experts. Discussions of TK and related concepts, TK research in the Bering Strait and Yukon River regions, and Alaska federal fisheries management-related institutions and processes as pertains to TK are presented. Substantive recommendations are provided for improving processes, increasing tribal representation, capacity building, effective communication, outreach and relationship-building, the incorporation of indigenous concerns and values, and regarding the development of a Fisheries Ecosystem Plan for the Bering Sea.
Bycatch mortality is a significant driver of marine mammal population declines. However, there is little information available on patterns or magnitude of bycatch mortality in many heavily fished Asian marine systems such as the South China Sea (SCS). To address this limited knowledge base, we conducted interviews with fishers to gather local ecological knowledge on marine mammal bycatch around Hainan Island, China. Gillnets were the primary fishing gear used in local fisheries, and were also responsible for the majority of reported marine mammal bycatch events in recent decades. Bycatch events were reported from all seasons but were most frequent in spring (38.4%), which might relate to seasonal variation in fishing activities. The spatial pattern of relative bycatch densities for Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Indo-Pacific finless porpoises and unidentified small dolphins varied around Hainan and neighbouring waters. A substantial proportion of informants (36.1 and 9.2% respectively) reported that they have eaten or sold marine mammal meat, demonstrating the continued existence of cultural practices of consuming marine mammals on Hainan. Responses of fishers to bycatch events were dependent both on their existing attitudes and perceptions towards marine mammals and on other sociocultural factors. Almost half of informants agreed that marine mammal populations in the SCS have decreased. Declines were thought by informants to have been caused by overfishing, water pollution and vessel collisions, with bycatch responsible for further declines in dolphins.