Climate Change

Traditional knowledge key to safeguard the ocean

September 15, 2023 4:22 pm

A local researcher is advocating for the harmonious integration of traditional knowledge and modern science to safeguard our precious oceans.

Speaking at the regional conference on ocean science and ocean management, Salanieta Kitolelei stresses the invaluable role that indigenous knowledge plays in preserving the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

Kitolelei, a current PhD scholar at USP passionately argues that this wealth of wisdom should be preserved and integrated into contemporary research efforts for the betterment of our oceans.

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At the heart of her presentation was the revelation of how local knowledge enables communities to identify the right time to catch specific fish species based on the blossoming of certain plants.

This intimate connection between the environment and indigenous knowledge has the potential to revolutionize the approach to ocean management and conservation.

“Environmental stewardship starts at an early age. So if people are able to learn that knowledge and apply it from a young age, they’ll be able to see, OK, this particular fish comes in this season, and it occurs in this environment, so we’ll go there to catch it. But then there’s always a catch, because there’s someone in your community that will exploit that knowledge. They’ll want to go and get more because they want to go and sell it to get money. And there’s nothing wrong with getting money, because everyone needs to survive in our world. But we need to have an early understanding to teach our children that there has to be a balance.”

Indigenous knowledge, often overlooked in mainstream scientific research, holds the key to sustainable ocean practices.

Kitolelei states that these insights, refined over centuries, have the potential to inform and complement the work of marine scientists and policymakers alike.

During her presentation, Kitolelei continued to highlight that the interconnectedness of the environment and indigenous communities is something science cannot afford to ignore.

She adds that the ability to predict fish behavior by observing the natural world around them is a testament to the profound understanding these communities possess.