The Ethnographic Institute values and works to enhance appreciation of the essential unity of socio-cultural and biological diversity co-evolving on tropical coasts. Institute programs are dedicated to improving living conditions, health and education, and poverty alleviation in fishing communities as the key to a better future for coastal populations and coastal marine environments: healthy fishing communities and healthy fisheries go together.
As the world’s last tropical sea frontiers vanish once remote, indigenous, and traditional fishing societies are becoming increasingly marginalized or disappearing altogether, along with many highly productive,potentially sustainable, small-scale fishing economies. Many local fishing communities possess coastal-marine biodiversity knowledge systems that have endured for centuries.
To stem cultural loss, EI works to empower communities to record, protect, in some cases to repossess, and find new applications for their culturally-based envrionmental,resource management, and natural history knowledge by:
- establishing local culture and heritage centers - securing rights to marine and coastal aquatic territories, resources, and settlement sites - harmonizing cultural and scientific management of marine areas and fisheries
'saveiro' fishing craft Bahia Brazil
lunar-tide fishing cycle Bahia Brazil
The lunar-tide cycle diagram shown above, is a calendrical device artisanal fishers use in N.E. Brazil to mentally map their fishing domains, locate species, decide where to fish, what capture techniques to use each day, and as a memory guide to the history and distribution of catches.
A tribute to the adaptive stability and utility of this system is that it persists today as the basic system of orientation in artisanal fishing in many villages as well as peri-urban coastal areas.
More information about this traditional knowledge system can be found in: Cordell, "The Lunar-Tide Fishing Cycle in N.E Brazil" Ethnology, vol XIII, No.4, pp. 379-392; also see Begossi [online] Temporal Stability in Fishing Spots in Brazilian Coastal Fisheries. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art5/.
EI is currently engaged in a number of projects in Brazil to develop sustainable small-scale fisheries and multi-use marine protected areas, in the framework of local cultural and heritage centers.To learn more about this work, click on the 'projects' button.