Report from Melvin Archbold, Master Programme in International Fisheries Management – NFH, University of Tromsø
Financial support to the project:
“A comparison study of green turtle, human use, commercialization, fisheries, management methods and alternatives for development in the indigenous communities of Sandy Bay Sirpi and Río Grande Bar, Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.”
Coastal communities and the very essence of their survival have long been linked to a direct and successful interaction of human and nature. Even thou coastal communities is considered as firsthand users in marine resources harvesting, their knowledge on resource use is often overlooked of omitted by many researchers and policy makers worldwide, despite the evidence that resource management success is directly connected to the fact that local knowledge is of essence because of the time accumulative factors such as interaction, observation and use given by coastal inhabitants.
Historically and traditionally, the indigenous and ethnic communities around coastal areas, has depend on marine resource. This case is the same on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, where green turtle (Chelonia mydas) fishery represents one of the main sources for protein and income to coastal inhabitants. Commercialization of green turtle meat within the indigenous communities, as well as with other coastal communities and town on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, is an activity that has been carried-out ever since the ancestors of the original inhabitants were established, and its dependence is liable to continues even thou its considered world wide as a threatened species because of the cultural attachment and social demand.
Their high commercial value and traditional role as a basic protein source for many riparian peoples in tropical and subtropical areas place sea turtles among the marine resources groups of major interest to fisheries. On the other hand, they also have become part of the rapidly increasing group of marine animals that are seriously threatened by over-exploitation and other man-related disturbances.
The Use of local knowledge as a tool for gathering data focused on resource trends is a highly valuable means to encourage the active participation of coastal inhabitations in policy making decisions targeting the sustainable use of marine resources. For this purpose, various methods of data collection were used in the fieldwork, which involved, interviews, focus groups as a way to ensure a highly valuable, accurate and credible data that shows the overview of coastal inhabitant’s perspective and perception of resource use and management.
The focus of the study was to determine the use of local knowledge and participation of indigenous communities as managers of natural resources, and a comparison of the level of livelihood dependence and use of green turtle by two indigenous communities, involvement in management processes, level of participation from a communal perspective and fisheries.
More than a question of analyzing the involvement in management processes and active participation, this research project targeted a question of addressing the relationship of resource use and poverty reduction, by supplying coastal communities with alternative source for development, and assessment of their resilience to resource depletion and poverty implications, and to asses the thru value of coastal resources from a cultural and esthetical point of vie by involving communities as first hand users and key stakeholders in the conservation, sustainable use and management.
Research in these communities is a rather complicated and expensive issue; since al means of transportation has to be aquatic the high cost of fuel is one of the main limitations when it comes to gathering of workshop participants, lodging and food. My previous experiences and involvement with indigenous communities has evoke in me the curiosity to return and work hand to hand with indigenous peoples, and this is simple because it gives a perfect scenario to experience the thru interlink of human and nature and a broad view of the complexity and simplicity of their reciprocal relationship, as cultural, social, economic development and values and knowledge, merge together. To the Sami center, I owe a great deal and thanks for their valuable help, that made possible for me to mobilize through the different communities, to gather the required data for my thesis.