Biocultural conservation of marine ecosystems: Examples from New Zealand and Canada
Stephenson, Janet; Berkes, Fikret; Turner, Nancy; Dick, Jonathan
Place-specific knowledge systems, combined with hands-on resource use and a long-term commitment to sustaining resources and ecosystems, are vitally important in restoring the planet to health. This approach is already an integral part of the resource use and management systems of many Indigenous and tribal peoples worldwide, whose knowledge and practices reflect a long history of co-evolving and interdependent social-ecological systems. Negotiated settlements of Indigenous rights issues in New Zealand and Canada have resulted in new opportunities for the expression and application of Indigenous management approaches, including in coastal fisheries. Using examples from both nations, including the Maketu taiāpure in New Zealand and Gwaii Haanas in Canada, we find that the recognition of Indigenous interests in fisheries management is creating a distinctive ‘third space’ of biocultural conservation that differs quite radically from the polarizing all-or-nothing regime of commercial fisheries vs marine reserves. These approaches to marine conservation simultaneously support cultural renewal and biocultural diversity; bridging the gap between scientific biodiversity conservation on the one hand, and local and Indigenous values of biodiversity for livelihoods on the other. Enabling Indigenous communities to apply their knowledge and practices in stewarding culturally important fisheries is a real alternative to the creation of artificial islands of conservation through human-free protected areas. Locally driven approaches may be the best hope for long-term conservation in a complex world.
Rights Statement: Copyright © 2012 The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Biocultural conservation; Social-ecological systems; Indigenous knowledge; Fisheries; Biodiversity; Co-management
Research Type: Journal Article