Are Maine Fishermen Losing Their Local Ecological Knowledge?·
Maine fishermen have a long history of being involved 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—from clams to alewives to lobsters.
In part, this success results from the deep understanding of the natural environment held by fishermen. “Local ecological knowledge” is a term used to describe the collective perceptions held by a particular group about their environment, resulting from the transmission of cultural knowledge from one generation to the next, combined with regular and persistent interactions between people and the environment.
Fishermen’s experience-derived “local ecological knowledge” can be equally valuable as data gained through modern scientific methods 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 in Maine’s fisheries, with more harvesters focusing on one or two target species. As fishermen focus on fewer types of fish, they have less access to the environment. Does this mean they are losing environmental knowledge, too?
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