Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Customary Use & Management of Fisheries’ Reserves (2008/09)

Exploring the links between traditional knowledge across Māori and German cultures

Project Leader: Stefanie Rixecker

Project Overview
Appreciating and understanding the relevance and role of traditional approaches to a natural reserve, such as customary use in fisheries, can provide an essential component in modelling reserves and managing them into the future.  Such approaches have become more prominent in countries and regions where indigenous people have laid claim to their natural resources and their traditional management of these resources, often referred to as ‘traditional ecological knowledge’ (TEK).

In New Zealand, for example, the indigenous peoples, Maori, are strongly involved in staking out fisheries claims and the management of fishery reserves.  Environmental management modelling, scientific studies and local management efforts often include ‘co-management’ or traditional ecological management approaches, thereby recognising indigenous Māori knowledge should not be regarded as outdated or irrelevant in contemporary environmental management practices.

Traditional ecological knowledge, however, has not been recognised as “resident” in local practices in Europe, such as the German fishing guilds.  Nevertheless, these guilds and their customary use practices reflect the relevance of local knowledge learned and carried out over hundreds of years.

Research Plan
The research programme investigates the extent to which traditional ecological knowledge is relevant and applicable in a seemingly traditional ‘indigenous’ context (Māori customary fishers) and a seemingly ‘European’ context (German customary fishers).  The research project seeks to fully articulate the historical and contemporary aspects of German customary use, its relevance in a contemporary German environmental management context and the extent to which it can be compared with an indigenous Māori approach to fisheries management.

The first German-based field work will be undertaken from July through September 2008. This phase involves archival research and fieldwork to interview customary fishers in Germany.  A residence at the Deutsches Museum in Munich has been secured, hosted by Dr. Frank Uekoetter, a Dilthey Fellow with the Research Institute of the Deutsches Museum.

Page last updated on: 05/05/2011