Most of the world's major fish stocks are overfished, many to the point of collapse. This situation has prompted debate concerning whether fisheries science and associated management, in their present forms, can provide a basis for the sustainable use of fishery resources. Some argue that finding ways to incorporate fishers' participation would improve the capacity to manage fisheries sustainably.
Researchers from many disciplinary backgrounds have argued that users' traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) represents at least a critical supplement to scientific understanding and perhaps an alternative foundation for sustainable resource management. One of the primary barriers to greater use of TEK lies in the absence of agreed-on methods for gathering information on it. The development of a framework for collecting and using fishers' TEK is the central focus of this paper. We review the literature on fisheries TEK from a methodological perspective, provide a sample method designed for research among commercial fishers in Newfoundland, and illustrate some potential benefits associated with combining data derived from fishers' TEK with data derived from more traditional sources.
Published in: Fishing Places, Fishing People: Traditions and Issues in Canadian Small-Scale Fisheries. D. Newell, R. Ommer, eds. University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 1999, p. 217-238.