Volume 57

The Value of Documenting Fishing Practices and Aquatic Knowledge of Local Fishers

Quinn, N.J.
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Date: November, 2004

Pages: 101-108

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Seventh Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: St. Petersburg, Florida

Country: USA


Much of what we know about the natural resources of developed countries can be found in libraries or on the internet. However, in lesser-developed countries, most of this knowledge exists only in the minds of experienced and skilled men and women. Together with 32 Melanesians we have assembled a 128 page illustrated book titled Aquatic Knowledge and Fishing Practices in Melanesia. The 30 essays recording traditional fishing customs were written by students of the Papua New Guinea (PNG) University of Technology, University of the South Pacific and the University of PNG. The essays were written after students had spoken with village elders and participated in fishing activities. Caribbean fishers also have an important body of fisheries knowl-edge that is largely unrecorded and under appreciated. Young, educated students in the Caribbean are among those citizens who know least about such things. Many spend their learning years away from fishing communities both physically and socially. They are seldom taught to understand and respect these knowledge systems and customs. Paradoxically, these are the citizens who will be given the duties and responsibilities to determine the future conservation and development strategies for their countries. It is unlikely that their training can be fully applied without greater fundamental knowledge of local marine resources. Many of these countries do not have the financial resources or human capacity required to conduct scientific surveys necessary to obtain information known by local fishers. I urge universities, NGOs, government agencies, and others to establish a coordinated program where young, educated Caribbean scholars work within their communities to establish partnerships with local fishing groups and document this knowledge while respecting intellectual property values.

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