Sharing knowledge for artisanal fishing sector transition
Improving knowledge of the artisanal fishing sector: light on generations of experience
Small-scale fisheries play an important role in providing income and employment to a large number of fishers and their families.
Fisheries are complex systems with different visible and underlying components that compose the sector. In the Mediterranean, data about fisheries has been predominantly focused on large-scale fisheries, with little focus on small-scale fisheries.
Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) about Mediterranean fisheries exists across small-scale fishers as they have gained it through years of experience; however, limited records of such knowledge is available.
In this context, the MedTEK report is one of the first attempts towards the compilation of a regional report on TEK, which covers the knowledge held by fishing communities in the Strait of Sicily (Malta and Pantelleria) and West Mediterranean (Alboran Sea).
The goal was to build the regional picture knowledge sets as shared and imagined by fishing communities. In this regard, it aimed at bringing to the forefront the experience of Mediterranean fishers about fish stocks, seasonality, patterns of migration, and climatic shifts, which is based on significant detail which is not yet collected through scientific approaches.
The three case studies indicate how fishers, as ‘citizens of the sea’ who are constantly out at sea, exposed to the environmental variations and witnessing changes as they happen, can bring substantial knowledge to the fisheries interface at particular spatial scales.
An ecosystem-based approach to understanding the fisheries can also be enhanced by TEK, as fishers have been able to interpret changes as they result from systemic fluctuations. These exemplify opportunistic ways in which fishers’ knowledge and activities can be tapped to provide data that is not readily available through other scientific rigorous systems.
All this knowledge is fundamental to inform fisheries conservation, especially now that the Mediterranean countries have vouched for their commitment towards the sustainable development towards small-scale fisheries through the Medfish4ever roadmap (European Commission, 2017), and the regional plan of action for small-scale fisheries (RPOA 2018-2028).
The collection of TEK from LIFE in these (and other) sites will be continued, hoping to deliver at the end of 2022 a complementary set of information more precise and ready to be used for management purposes.