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Local ecological knowledge and marine fisheries research: the case of white hake (Urophycis tenuis) predation on juvenile American lobster (Homarus americanus)

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Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence fish harvesters voiced the concern that white hake (Urophycis tenuis) were jeopardizing the recruitment of juvenile American lobster (Homarus americanus), through predation, into the commercially exploitable population. The harvesters insisted that marine science was not documenting this situation, since sampling was being conducted in the wrong places and at the wrong times of year. This paper reports on the results arising from a 2-year collaborative and interdisciplinary research project designed to examine fish harvesters' concerns. Several social research methodologies were used to identify and interview “local knowledge experts” about where and when sampling should occur. Following harvesters' advice, white hake stomachs were sampled over a 2-year period. Contrary to harvester expectations, American lobster was not found in any of the 3080 white hake stomachs sampled. Yet, harvesters' advice did result in successful sampling from within the places recommended and at the times of year specified. The research also demonstrates an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach that generates meaningful research results while incorporating marine harvester local knowledge and addressing their concerns.

Les pêcheurs commerciaux du sud du golfe du Saint-Laurent se sont inquiétés de ce que les merluches blanches (Urophycis tenuis) mettent en danger par leur prédation le recrutement de jeunes homards d'Amérique (Homarus americanus) dans la population sujette à l'exploitation commerciale. Ils insistaient que les biologistes marins ne suivaient pas la situation adéquatement parce que l'échantillonnage se faisait aux mauvais endroits et au mauvais temps de l'année. Notre travail présente les résultats d'un projet de recherche multidisciplinaire de 2 ans, fait en collaboration et destiné à examiner les soucis des pêcheurs. Plusieurs méthodologies empruntées aux sciences sociales nous ont permis d'identifier et de questionner les « experts locaux » sur les endroits et les moments de l'échantillonnage. Selon l'avis des pêcheurs, nous avons prélevé des estomacs de merluches blanches sur une période de 2 ans. Contrairement aux attentes des pêcheurs, aucun homard d'Amérique n'a été trouvé dans les 3080 estomacs de merluches blanches prélevés, même si nous avons mené avec succès des échantillonnages dans les sites qu'ils avaient recommandés et aux périodes de l'année qu'ils avaient indiquées. Ce travail est aussi une illustration d'une approche interdisciplinaire et collaborative qui mène à des résultats scientifiques significatifs, tout en tenant compte des connaissances locales des pêcheurs marins et de leurs préoccupations.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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