Oral History Project to Collect Traditional....
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GRANT NUMBER:  NA76FD0112           NMFS NUMBER:   96-NER-166

REPORT TITLE:  Oral History Project to Collect Traditional Ecological Knowledge (Including Spawning Area Data) and Develop an Historical Record of Fishermen/Scientist Interactions

AUTHOR: Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Development Programs, Inc.

PUBLISH DATE:  June 14, 1999

AVAILABLE FROM:  National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Region, One Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298.  PHONE:  (978) 281-9267


Twenty-two Gloucester fishermen and six NMFS biologists were interviewed to secure a series of oral histories of fishermen’s experiences at sea; build a database of traditional spawning areas using a Geographic Information System (GIS); and document joint efforts between fishermen and scientists. The fishermen ranged in age from 31-83 years old and represented several different vessel and gear types. A protocol was developed for the interviews, but flexibility was allowed for discourse on topics the respondent considered significant. Changes in fishing patterns over time were documented by the testimonies including crew downsizing; increase in average fishing trip length; and diminished use of networks of several boats fishing together in an area to share fishing information and help other boats in an emergency. Respondents used color coded markers on NOAA charts to indicate favored fishing grounds, juvenile fish areas, and spawning areas. One of the 11 charts marked by the fishermen was digitized for use in GIS. More funding and time is needed to digitize the remaining maps and develop a database. The historical interactions between scientists and fishermen revealed the need to improve communication and collaboration between these two groups. The researchers recommend creating monthly talking circles; training seminars for fishermen on scientific and conservation issues; continued mapping of traditional ecological knowledge of fishermen; expanding fisherman participation in sea sampling programs; participation of scientists in community forums; and regular discussion between scientists and the Social Sciences Advisory Committee regarding the needs of Fishery Dependent Communities.

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