9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS06 Maritime Sociology

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Maritime Sociology I Building AA, AA.340

Traditional Ecological Knowledge as an Approach in the Management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAS)

The institution of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) emerges globally as a social phenomenon. Following the sociological concept of community, our study deals with the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), as an interesting approach in the institution and management of MPAs, in locations characterized by a long history of human settlement. The TEK can be defined as «a cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment».
We anticipate that TEK is identifiable as an aspect characterising and identifying the local coastal communities, including those that experienced important social transformations. Also, we consider the TEK as a basic issue in planning policies of marine conservation.
Beside the recognition of the MPAs as an effective tools for the conservation and protection of marine biodiversity, we consider, as sociologists, MPAs as sites rich in "social diversity" where, especially within resident communities, social practices, believes, habits, collective memories, traditions and dynamic identities are developed and reproduced in time. As suggested by sociological studies, whatever the society or community is, collective memories are associated to the plurality of formal and informal groups of interest. These memories generate processes of dynamic hierarchies of knowledge, all leading back to disputes and agreements within and intra social groups.
We here hypothesize that the often-recorded refusal by local communities to accept policies of marine conservation is likely to be linked to anthropological reasons such as the sense of interpenetration of local inhabitants toward the territory. That is, the institution and the management of a given MPA by the central government and other external organisations is viewed locally as an intrusion, a threat to long-time, restricted and well-established practices and relationships.
We are convinced that these issues are crucial in the sector of maritime sociology.