Human Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 549–571 | Cite as

Lessons Learned from Reconstructing Interactions Between Local Ecological Knowledge, Fisheries Science, and Fisheries Management in the Commercial Fisheries of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

  • Grant Murray
  • Barbara Neis
  • Jahn Petter Johnsen

Questions centered on the development of local and traditional ecological knowledge and the relationship of that knowledge to the development of conservation and management practices have recently attracted critical attention. We examine these questions with respect to the dynamic commercial fisheries of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The knowledge of fish harvesters coevolves with fishing practices and is embedded in a dynamic socioecological network that extends into and beyond the fisher, fishery households, and communities to include management, technologies, markets, and marine ecological conditions. Changes in these networks have moved knowledge and practices related to fishing in directions defined by policy, science, economic rationality, and new ecological realities. We characterize this movement as a shift along a continuum from local ecological knowledge (LEK) towards globalized harvesting knowledge (GHK) as harvesters become increasingly disconnected from socioecological relationships associated with traditional species and stocks. We conclude with a discussion of how LEK/GHK have interacted over time and space with other knowledge systems (particularly science) to influence management, and suggest that contingent, empirical evaluations of these interactions will provide a fruitful avenue for future interdisciplinary research.


local ecological knowledge fisheries management Newfoundland and Labrador 



This paper arose from a presentation originally developed for the International Association for the Study of Common Property in Oaxáca, Mexico. We have also drawn on material previously presented in a paper submitted to the XI World Congress in Rural Sociology, Trondheim, 25–29 July 2004 entitled How Knowledge Changes in the Fisheries (Johnsen et al., 2004). The authors wish to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) who have provided the major funds for the ‘Coasts Under Stress’ Project through the SSHRC Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) program. Funding was also provided by the host universities Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Victoria, and by the Norwegian Research Council, the Market and Society Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grant Murray
    • 1
  • Barbara Neis
    • 1
  • Jahn Petter Johnsen
    • 2
  1. 1.Coasts Under Stress Research ProjectMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Rural Research Pavilion A, Loholt allé 85, DragvollNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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