OOS 37-8
Using indigenous social-ecological concepts to inform future sustainability and wellbeing: Examples from Southeast Alaska

Thursday, August 14, 2014: 10:30 AM
306, Sacramento Convention Center
Thomas Thornton, Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY

To what extent can ethnolinguistic and ethnoecological knowledge be used as tools for envisionng and carrying out ecosystem management in coastal areas?  This paper examines this question by looking at case studies of Pacific herring and salmon in social-ecological systems in Southeast Alaska.  The paper examines several management controversies that have developed around these species in recent years pitting the Alaska Department of Fish & Game managers against Native (mainly Tlingit) inhabitants.  It examines the controversies first in terms cultural models of the coastal ecosystems and the entailments that emerge from these cultural models in terms of engagement and management/stewardship practices. The paper is based on Local and Traditional Knowledge (LTK) documentation, discourse analysis, and expert interviews.


The indigenous systems emerges as one of cultivated abundance versus the state paradigm of maximum sustained yield (MSY). The paper then addresses to what extent these seemingly conflicting paradigms might be reconciled in a dynamic and changing coastal environment like Southeast Alaska. It suggests that aboriginal conceptualisations and cultivation of the land-sea interface remain highly relevant to the maintenance and enhancement of fisheries today.