Dalhousie hosts $3-million research project to examine how indigenous knowledge systems can contribute to fisheries governance in Canada
Dalhousie University has been awarded $1,997,900 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and $1,218,800 in in-kind partner contributions to explore how the different processes by which knowledge is acquired, transmitted and used can be harnessed to enhance Canadian fisheries policy.
Traditionally, Canadian fisheries governance has been influenced by a “top-down” western knowledge system that has proven, for the most part, inadequate to successfully manage fisheries. In contrast, indigenous knowledge systems, which tend to be more place-based, holistic and personal seem to be more consistent with an ecosystem approach that meets community needs without depleting stock.
The Fisheries – Western and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (Fish-WIKS) research project, led by Dr. Lucia Fanning, Director of the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie, will explore how fisheries governance in Canada can be improved by using the best model or mix of models from western and indigenous knowledge systems at multiple levels of decision-making.
Dalhousie is partnering with the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia, the Government of Nunavut, the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources and researchers from University of Guelph, University of Toronto and Vancouver Island University on the project.
Fish-WIKS will analyze the similarities and differences of the indigenous knowledge systems in the coastal communities of Tla-o-qui-aht, BC, Pangnirtung, NU, Nipissing, ON, and Eskasoni, NS.
Fish-WIKS will train and mentor 18 undergraduate, Master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral candidates as part of the project. Priority will be given to indigenous students, fisheries governance scholars and practitioner and candidates with policy-relevant knowledge pertaining to oral and written communication formats.
The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), is awarding more than $70 million over seven years through the SSHRC to support 92 interdisciplinary partnership research projects. Fish-WIKS is one of those projects.
"The Fisheries – Western and Indigenous Knowledge Systems project is all about understanding and using the best that indigenous and western knowledge systems have to offer to better govern and manage our fisheries. With partners spanning Canada’s three marine coasts and the inland region, we have a unique opportunity to acquire policy-relevant knowledge valuable to both indigenous (First Nations and Inuit) and non-indigenous decision makers and users of this invaluable natural resource."– Dr. Lucia Fanning, Director, Marine Affairs, Dalhousie University.
"Dalhousie is proud to host and be a partner in this important research project addressing First Nation and Inuit peoples’ fisheries. The issues involved are key to environmental sustainability, resource management and aboriginal rights." - Martha Crago, Vice-President (Research), Dalhousie University.
"Fisheries and Oceans Canada believes the proposed research … will offer useful insight into understanding the contributions Aboriginal traditional knowledge systems can provide to federally managed fisheries in Canada." – The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
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