1900 to 1970

Amateur naturalists and tradesman, travelled the seas in search of adventure and riches. They were some of the first outsiders to recognise and deliberately record the knowledge of local fishers. Their notes were lost until Johannes and his colleagues re-discovered them.


1970 to 2000

Scientists inspired by the first wave. They focused on collecting fishers’ knowledge. Some even felt this knowledge was enough on its own to manage the fisheries.


2000 to present day

Largely relies on semistructured interviews, e.g. local fishers are asked to rate fish numbers as ‘good’, ‘average’ or ‘bad’, or to draw information on nautical maps. They don’t think that fishers’ knowledge is enough on its own to manage fisheries. Instead, they emphasise that it should be used in combination with conventional scientific methods.


Marine biologists, practicing ‘traditional science’. They do collect data from fishers,and only things they can count or measure like how many fish were caught, and exactly where and when the fishers caught them


This is very new, just a ripple really. It seems to be trying to bring together waves 3 and 4, for example, interviewing local fisherman, and recording a variety of information from them, including things which the scientists can use like fish numbers.


How can wave 5 link local fishers, fishers’ knowledge researchers and fisheries scientists?

So where does this leave us? Is there a calmer ocean ahead for those studying fishers’ knowledge and those studying fisheries science to sail forwards together peacefully? Perhaps they could even be in the same boat? Hind thinks that there is still a way to go before the two types of researchers truly work well together. Yes, scientists must drop any negative prejudices against fishers, but fishers’ knowledge researchers must collect information useful to the scientists. What happens next is down to the next generation of scientists.

Story: Aarthi Sridhar and Matthew Creasey

Illustration: Kabini Amin


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