Monday, August 3, 2009 - 3:30 PM

SYMP 3-7: Humans and the sea: Valuing our relationships with marine ecosystems

Mimi E. Lam, University of British Columbia and University of New Mexico

Background/Question/Methods:   Human relationships with nature are dynamic cultural adaptations, shared experiences of people evolving with places.  As sources of shelter, food, resources, and knowledge, places become imbued, over time, with shared values and symbolic meanings.  Marine resource valuation and policy may be framed by two concepts:  1. cultural property, an evolved way of knowing and non-market valuation, reflecting an intimate, communal relationship with local resources; and 2. ecosystem-based governance, joint jurisdiction in shared resource management of a local marine ecosystem, grounded in a common sense of place and stewardship ethic.
Results/Conclusions:   A generational-index is proposed as an indicator of the cultural property and value of local resources to individuals and communities residing in a place.  For millennia, Pacific Northwest indigenous societies’ traditional ecological knowledge and potlatching system sustained local harvesting and living practices, predicated on the principle of reciprocity.  Today, global society is faced with this same challenge writ large:  to coordinate and sustain complex, dynamic, diverse, and vulnerable human relationships with nature and each other.  The global community may thus benefit from this evolutionary, place-based perspective to evolve shared, responsible, and ethical ecosystem governance.