In celebration of Day of Indigenous People we are republishing this article on Traditional Fishing Communities.
How to protect our Ocean and make it sustainable for future generations? That is a question that is at the core of so many Blue Ocean posts. How to establish and make Marine Protected Areas work? How to make marine life sustainable and insure that it continues to provide an adequate food source into the future? How do we ensure the economic viability of our tourism and dive businesses. All of these issues are interdependent and one thing that remains a constant is the need to include in these discussions the local communities, the local fishers, local customs and government.
Where do you think half of your wild-caught seafood comes from?
Fish feed three of every seven people, over three billion worldwide, more than any other animal protein and half of that comes from the millions of small, local fisheries scattered along the world’s coastlines. An article in Human Nature points out that fish are the last major food source gathered from the wild and that keeping small coastal fisheries healthy and sustainable is imperative for keeping the ocean healthy.
Fishing communities that share in the benefits of Protected Marine areas, with expanding fish populations for example, will be motivated partners in protecting those waters. “The management of artisanal fisheries in marine protected areas is one of the only ways we have in Brazil to conserve fishery resources, and the human cultures and economies who depend on the sea to live,” says Carlos Alberto Pinto dos Santos, a Brazilian fisher.
Forty-four percent of the world’s population lives within less than 100 miles of the ocean and this population is heavily dependent on the ocean for their food security and jobs. Nine out of ten people employed in fishing worldwide work in coastal community fishing. Read more in Human Nature.
Researching Traditional Fishing Communities in the Philippines Where
Young Fishers Literally Don’t Know What They’re Missing;
National Geographic reports in their Explorers Journal on a phenomenon called “shifting baselines syndrome.” We have all experienced this, when we compare perceptions over time. As when a youngster is blown away by their first glimpse of a coral reef and I respond by saying “ooooh but if you had only seen it twenty years ago.”
Erina Molina takes us to her Philippines (home to 5 million fishers) where she has been exploring these perceptions by interviewing over 300 fishers from different villages. As Erina says, “I believe that fishers can be regarded as experts of the ocean. They don’t just live near the coast—fishing is their way of life. They depend on the ocean for their survival…and while there’s a lack of written historical data in the Philippines, the fishers themselves are a living source of information about past marine ecosystems”
While younger fishermen believe that fish stocks remain unchanging. “Older fishermen however, perceived that their fish catch strongly decreased since the time they started fishing. Here was the “shifting baseline syndrome” in action.” Erina continues “the older fishers are actually alarmed by what might happen in the future. They say that if they are catching less and less today, the future generations might have a hard time catching enough fish for their daily sustenance.”
Erina is doing valuable research that needs to be converted from anecdotal evidence to hard data that can provide insights and recommendations for fisheries management. See this entire article in: Young Fishers Literally Don’t Know What They’re Missing
Fisherman Joining the Digital Age
Relevant to our own coastal fishing communities is this article from Ocean Conservancy. Earlier this month the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to develop electronic reporting systems for the charter boat fleet operating in the Gulf. As a result all fish caught will be monitored on a daily basis, by a central manager, improving the oversight of the nation’s fish stocks. Millions of people enjoy recreational fishing and the industry supports thousands of jobs in the local economies, consequently it is critical that we ensure the sustainability of this resource.
Much of the credit for the adoption of this new technology goes to the fishing captains themselves, who repeatedly requested the means for getting their data directly to fishery managers in a more efficient and timely manner. It is hoped that this technology will find applications for fisheries around the world.
Blue Ocean has been contributing to this dialogue, here are several of our related round-up posts:
Sustainable Fishing: Decline in fish stocks propel new models for ocean management
“Our voracious consumption of fish has been caught in a 10-year study by 400 global collaborators – and their conclusion is that fishing is anything but sustainable.” However as this round-up post on Sustainable Fishing indicated not all the news is bad. We are making real progress in some areas, especially Marine Protected Areas and when involving local fishing communities. (photo – Burt Jones) See our post: Sustainable Fishing: Decline in fish stocks propel new models for ocean management.
See our post on a Girl’s Science Club Project to solve the problem of Marine By-Catch, see: SOS: Girls’ Science Club Seeks Feedback, Insight from Marine Experts
Marine Protected Areas: Giant Leap for Fish Kind
“It’s been proven that one of the most effective ways to increase fish stocks and stop the downward trajectory of ocean ecosystems is to establish and effectively manage Marine Protected Areas. MPA expansion took a great leap towards that goal in 2016 with the protection of the Ross Sea, but the Antarctic MPA was just one of many advancements to keep marine ecosystems intact.” This was a round-up post of some very exciting news on MPAs in 2016. (photo – Eric Madega, WWF Malaysia) See our post: Marine Protected Areas: Giant Leap for Fish Kind
Illegal Fishing On the Hook in 2016
“A treaty was signed, new technologies were launched, and economic pressure put into place to fight global illegal fishing in 2016. Illegal, unreported and undocumented (IUU) fishing endangers legitimate fishing industries, undermines responsible fisheries management and threatens food security and livelihoods of local communities, particularly in developing nations. (photo – scubadiving.com) See our post: Illegal Fishing On the Hook in 2016
Misool Eco-Resort Celebrates Ten Years of Marine Conservation
“I just saw the new video from the Misool Eco-Resort at Raja Ampat, and I have already started packing my bags. The video transports you into the heart of the coral triangle but also beautifully displays the results of the amazing marine conservation effort that Andy Miner and the local community has accomplished over the last decade.” This post also contains a link to our Blue Ocean Summit speaker Andy Miner where he explains the steps he took to create a Marine Protected Area around Misool. See this post
Blue Ocean Summit Speakers discuss Traditional Fishing Communities
Repeatedly our Blue Ocean speakers spoke to the subject of working with the local communities, it was a very common theme. Here are some of those discussions that you can tap into,
“Our approach in Raja Ampat was not to come in talking, rather to come in listening” ~ Dr. Mark Erdmann
“Conservation is all about changing people’s behaviour and this has been the big problem conservationists have had in the past. They have taken a top down approach thinking that their view, which is a western view, is all about biodiversity. We do need to let these communities know how important their biodiversity is, and that it is important to protect, however these communities have lived there long before there was dive tourism and long before there was anyone thinking about conservation.” See Mark’s Blue Ocean post.
“What is most satisfactory about what we have accomplished with Wakatobi is we have shown that businesses can accomplish great things not only for their customers but also for the environment. At Wakatobi I feel that we are in a “for-everyone’s-profit business.” ~ Henrik Rosen
See all of Henrik’s Blue Summit post.
“The village people are extremely proud of Walindi. Generally, there’s a lot of respect for what we do… so they don’t trash the reefs..” ~ Cecile & Max Benjamin
Papua New Guinea is a special place for divers: Cecilie and Max Benjamin have been showing the spectacular diving of Kimbe Bay in the Coral Triangle in Papua New Guinea for 32 years. The couple are pioneers in PNG dive tourism, and step-by-step established Walindi Plantation Resort, MV Febrina Live-aboard, and Mahonia Na Dari conservation centre. See the Benjamin’s Blue Ocean Summit post.
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