Watch: How are Indigenous People shaping the past, present, and future of fishing and fisheries management?

By Andrea Reid, Rowshyra Castañeda, and Patrick Cooney

Today, many of us are contemplating the history of interactions, impacts, and influences between people of European descent and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas. Perhaps, one of the most significant ongoing interactions involves fish and fisheries management. 

Video 1. Indigenous Fisheries of Canada: Past, Present, and Future

Dr. Andrea Reid (@andreajanereid), Assistant Professor at The University of British Columbia’s Institute of Oceans and Fisheries, discusses the timeline, history, importance, regulations, restrictions, and future of Indigenous fisheries of Canada. Andrea explores the Mi’kmaw concept of “Two-Eyed Seeing” and challenges us to consider the positive impacts of creating space for Indigenous fisheries management insights and practices within existing conventional fisheries management frameworks.

Video 2. A Brief History of Fisheries in Canada

Dr. Rowshyra Castañeda (@Rowshyra), a Postdoctoral Fellow with Fisheries and Ocean Canada, provides a timeline of commercial and recreational fisheries across Canada. The Chapters in this presentation include an Introduction, followed by Atlantic Ocean, Great Lakes Basin, Inland Lakes, Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Recreational Fisheries, and wrapped up with Conclusions. For more information, see the article that acted as the inspiration for the presentation.

Watch Dr. Rowshyra Castañeda included presentation to get a detailed tour of this graphic on the history of fisheries across Canada. (Graphic by Rowshyra Castañeda)

Across the Americas, agreements and treaties are used as part of the politically and scientifically determined quotas that declare who is allowed to harvest the particular portions of each fish population.  But, change is on the horizon. Within this scientific and political decision making, there is a noteworthy topic that is currently underrepresented but is gaining momentum and consideration because of its strong merit:

For millennia, Indigenous Peoples managed fish and fisheries sustainably. Surely those Indigenous methods have lessons to bear on what we are doing today.  So, how do we create room for Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous ways of being to create a more holistic and comprehensive approach for sustainably managing fish populations?

Our fisheries, like many of our ecosystems around the world, are truly in crisis. In order to solve the problems that are facing these systems we need the best tools available at our disposal, and not just those that are derived from western or mainstream scientific practices.

There are other ways of looking at the world and other ways of finding solutions. Clearly, Indigenous knowledge systems provide a wealth of long standing knowledge of these fish and fisheries.

The principle called “two-eyed seeing” is a Mi’kmaw concept of learning. This learning allows someone to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing while seeing from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing. Learning to use both those eyes together with Indigenous and Western concepts creates a benefit for all people and fish.

Two-eyed seeing” is a Mi’kmaw concept of learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing while seeing from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing.  (Graphic Construction: Patrick Cooney with sources)

Ultimately, if we can bring “two-eyed seeing” to bear on contemporary fisheries management, we can bring together Indigenous knowledge systems and Western approaches to find sustainable solutions that can benefit all fish and people.

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