DV-17-09 Developing and assessing a method to analyze the effects of access on local ecological knowledge of commercial fishermen

Joshua Stoll
School of Marine Sciences
University of Maine

Maine's commercial fishing sector has had a long history of participating in fisheries management. Communication between harvesters and policymakers has been instrumental in the development of rules and regulations that have helped to sustain the region's coastal fisheries. Fishermen have deep understanding of the natural environment. This experience-derived "local ecological knowledge" can be equally valuable as standardized “scientific” knowledge for informing resource management and building community resilience. Yet the very experience that forms the basis for fishermen’s knowledge is being eroded by increasing specialization. As fishermen focus on fewer species, they have less access to the environment and as a result may be losing knowledge.

Stoll and a graduate student will design and pilot a study to test this hypothesis, looking at how changing access to fish species over time has affected their knowledge of the marine environment. Loss of knowledge has implications for fisheries management as well as community identity and wellbeing.

Sea Grant funds: $4,200