The Relevance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Modern Management of Coral Reef Fisheries in Melanesia
KeywordsDU Oceania (South Seas)
G Geography (General)
GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences (General)
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AbstractTraditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has received great attention in respect to coral reef associated fisheries as a way to adapt modern management strategies to local environmental and cultural conditions. We analysed the social and cultural roles of TEK for resource management in traditional Melanesian communities in New Caledonia. A multidisciplinary survey of customary marine tenure and fishing regulations on Ouvéa, a raised limestone island in New Caledonia, was carried out in 2006. Informants from the main chiefdoms and clans were questioned about past and present fishing activities, maritime territory rights, taboo areas and place names, customary authority, socio-cultural practices and belief related to marine resources, and vernacular knowledge and taxonomy of marine organisms. Results showed that customary fishing rules were primarily related to cultural events and social organization rather than to ecological patterns or economic interests. The relationships between TEK, population needs and uses of the environment were still strong, but have changed since the 1860s. An unquantifiable loss of indigenous knowledge has also occurred. Nowadays, to satisfy food and economic needs, modern users often abandon TEK and behave in relation to their own individual economic perceptions and needs. Better consideration of social and cultural aspects in resource management issues may therefore directly help to increase awareness of resource depletion and biodiversity loss as a basis for achieving long-term ecosystem and economic sustainability in Melanesian islands.
Léopold, M. and Herrenschmidt, J.B. and Thaman, Randolph R. (2008) The Relevance of Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Modern Management of Coral Reef Fisheries in Melanesia. [Conference Proceedings]