Number 41 (October 2023)PDF: 2 MB
Group Coordinator and Bulletin Editor
Pacific Community, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia.
Produced with financial assistance from the Australian Government, the European Union, France and the New Zealand Aid Programme.
The original intent of the Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Bulletin, which was first launched in 1992, was that it would serve as a hub for the collection, discussion and dissemination of information on traditional marine resource management systems and the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) on which these systems are based. Kenneth Ruddle was the originating editor of the bulletin and the main driver of its existence over the last 30 years (except for issues 37 and 38 where Philippa Cohen was a guest co-editor alongside Kenneth).
Kenneth was an outstanding choice as editor because he was a pioneer along with other distinguished persons – such as Tomoya Akimichi, John Cordell, Robert Johannes, Bernard Nietschmann, Richard Pollnac, Nicholas Polunin and Robert Pomeroy – researching and advocating for the recognition of both TEK and what has since become known as customary marine tenureship. These two terms have inspired other researchers in the fields of anthropology and marine biology, including myself, Shankar Aswani, Joshua Cinner, Philippa Cohen, Simon Foale and Edvard Hviding, and many others.
In issue 7 (September 1996), Kenneth made impassioned pleas for authors to use the Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Bulletin to share their research and experiences. But it was not until three years later, in issue 11 (September 1999), that the bulletin received all its articles unsolicited. Issues 15 (July 2003) and 16 (December 2004) were the only other issues where the bulletin received all its contributions unsolicited, without Kenneth having to put a call out to peers and colleagues to contribute their research findings.
Last year, I was asked by SPC to be the guest editor for the Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Bulletin, which had been inactive for four years as Kenneth became occupied with several other issues that required his attention. I sent emails to all Pacific Island countries and territories’ fisheries agencies, and to everyone I knew working in non-governmental conservation organisations, and to many friends, peers and colleagues working in various academic institutions. All to no avail. Another attempt resulted in the five papers that make up this final issue of the bulletin.
Kenneth had also reported on this problem in the past, and which has continued to plague the bulletin. Many of us are all too familiar with the adage of “publish or perish”. Publication metrics (e.g. ORCHID, Scopus, Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, even Research Gate) are a measure of academic productivity and are important for individual careers. They are also a significant part of the funding award process. Authors from academic institutions, therefore, are reluctant to publish their findings in non-peer reviewed and less formal publications.
During the 30-year lifespan of the Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Bulletin, nearly 150 articles have been published on TEK, customary marine tenure, community-based fisheries management, research methodologies, data collection, and other related issues. Of these, 63% were from Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji), showing a strong bias towards TEK, partly due to the fact that many people residing in this region still live largely subsistence lifestyles.
Given the predominance of articles from Melanesia, it seems fitting, that for this final issue of the Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Bulletin, four articles are from Solomon Islands and one from Papua New Guinea.
In the first article, staff from the Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources – in collaboration with the Overseas Fisheries Cooperation Foundation – detail the results of a pilot project that started in 2010, and involved the hatchery production of juvenile peanutfish (Stichopus horrens) to be released into wild habitats under co-management arrangements. The authors report on the issues and challenges that were faced while implementing this project, and highlighted the “modern” realities of community-based fisheries management with community dependency and demands. The authors provide recommendations to enhance such co-management arrangements in the future.
The second article focuses on the management and protection of fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) in Solomon Islands. To help understand FSAs, the authors collected TEK from 102 fishers residing around Munda, and Roviana and Marovo lagoons in the Western Province. This information was used to inform community-based fisheries management of the identified FSAs, and provide recommendations for adapting current government regulations for managing FSAs. By using TEK, information regarding the spawning of important grouper species pointed to regional variations in spawning times among individual species, specifically groupers, and identified areas for concern regarding the current nationwide seasonal ban.
The third article moves us from the coastal fringe onto land and into ponds for farming tilapia in Solomon Islands’ Malaita Province. It highlights the issues with providing extension services to tilapia farmers, and reports on key lessons learned from this project. Technology and e-platforms for communication and data collection are increasingly becoming the new TEK. The development of a tilapia app was seen as a vital breakthrough in disseminating relevant information to tilapia farmers for extension purposes, and this resulted in greater sharing of technology, increased farmer motivation, and stronger awareness of the need to integrate health and safety as positive impacts.
The fourth article from the Solomon Islands, involves a team of researchers from Solomon Islands National University, James Cook University (Australia), Solomon Island Ministries of Health and Medical Services, and Justice and Legal Affairs, who conducted an investigation of livelihood options with communities of the Sirubai Voko Tribal Association in southeast Vella La Vella in Western Province. Using a diagnostic workshop, four generic strategies were formulated from the communities’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The diagnostic analysis was followed by an assessment of six livelihood options to realise their suitability for supplementing the community’s resource management initiatives.
The fifth and final article highlights not only the highly biodiverse marine environment of Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay Province, but also reports on the ongoing efforts that have been made to establish local marine management areas. In 2017, a local system of customary marine management called gwala (in the Bwanabwana language) was promoted for its integral and historical cultural value, rather than the previous focus by an international NGO on Western notions of science and conservation. The use of gwala provides communities with a familiar method to manage their marine resources and associated environments for food and livelihood security, resulting in localised recovery of declining marine resources.
While two of the papers in this final issue of the bulletin have highlighted that while “traditional ecological knowledge” has its place, ecological knowledge that increasingly utilises multi-media technology is becoming increasingly important. Unfortunately, however, the Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Bulletin is unable to follow this new trajectory. To ensure there is still an option for highlighting continuing research and work in this field, SPC has created the web portal “Echoes of Oceania” (https://cbfm.spc.int/), which can be used to share information and research.
In addition, the SPC Fisheries Newsletter remains open to publishing articles relating to fisheries and aquaculture, including those on TEK, and I urge you to use it if you have articles you would like to see published. The SPC Fisheries Newsletter has a wide readership across the Pacific Islands region and is easily accessible (where many formal journal articles are not).
So, for my last words, I now say “vale” to the Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge Bulletin, and thank Kenneth Ruddle for his tremendous efforts over the last 30 years managing this bulletin.
James Ngwaerobo, Toru Komatsu, James Teri, Wesley Garofe, Billy Anthony Diau, Catherine Tsatsia and Stanley Tagua (pdf: 350 KB)
Kevin Rhodes, Alec Hughes and Stacy D. Jupiter (pdf: 666 KB)
Billy Meu (pdf: 1 MB)
Collin Rudolf Nobbs Gereniu, Henry Vavu Kaniki, Jim Hyacinth Damusaru, Henrick Kaniki, Steneth Kaniki and Kezyiah Saepioh (pdf: 714 KB)
David K. Mitchell (pdf: 730 KB)