Integrating traditional ecological knowledge and fisheries management in the Torres Strait, Australia: the catalytic role of turtles and dugong as cultural keystone species

Butler, James R.A., Tawake, Alifereti, Skewes, Tim, Tawake, Lavenia, and McGrath, Vic (2012) Integrating traditional ecological knowledge and fisheries management in the Torres Strait, Australia: the catalytic role of turtles and dugong as cultural keystone species. Ecology and Society, 17 (4). 34. pp. 1-19.

[img]
Preview
PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Download (1MB)
View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05165-17043...
 
60
1202


Abstract

In many developing regions of Melanesia, fishers' traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has been integrated with western science and management knowledge (SMK) to generate innovative and effective fisheries management. Previous research suggests that three factors initiate this process: depleted fishery stocks, limited SMK, and ownership of resources by local communities. In other contexts the extent of power-sharing through comanagement, and the cultural significance of species may also be important determinants of knowledge integration. Here we assess the role of these factors in the application of TEK in the Torres Strait Islands, Australia, where commercial and subsistence fisheries are fundamental to the Indigenous Melanesian culture and livelihoods. In 2009 we surveyed fishery managers and scientists who revealed that TEK had only been recently and sparingly applied in four fisheries (turtle, dugong, lobster, and hand collectables), and only two of the seven species concerned had a combination of depleted stocks, low SMK, and high community ownership. Instead, comanagement characteristics and the cultural value of species were the primary determinants of TEK application. We suggest that turtles and dugong are cultural keystone species that simultaneously provide important ecosystem services to both islanders' livelihoods and international conservation interests. Combined with their ecological scale these species have catalyzed comanagement between indigenous and government stakeholders, precipitating the application of TEK in other fisheries of lesser cultural importance. We discuss modifications to governance required to enable knowledge integration to evolve further through adaptive comanagement, and its role in enhancing fisheries management and thus the resilience of the Torres Strait social-ecological system. Our study highlights the potential utility of cultural keystone species in stimulating cross-cultural resource governance in developed economies such as Australia.

Item ID: 24751
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1708-3087
Keywords: adaptive comanagement; climate change; ecosystem services; dugong; governance; livelihoods; Melanesia; Papua New Guinea; resilience; subsistence fisheries; traditional ecological knowledge; turtles
Additional Information:

This article is part of a special feature on Integrating Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Science in Natural Resource Management: Perspectives from Australia.

Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2013 04:55
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Knowledge @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 33%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070403 Fisheries Management @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960902 Coastal and Estuarine Land Management @ 34%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 33%
Downloads: Total: 1202
Last 12 Months: 52
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page