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Using Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Improve Holistic Fisheries Management: Transdisciplinary Modeling of a Lagoon Ecosystem of Southern Mexico

Alejandro Espinoza-Tenorio, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology; El Colegio de la Frontera Sur-Unidad Villahermosa
Matthias Wolff, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology
Ileana Espejel, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
Gabriela Montaño-Moctezuma, Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California


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We developed a transdisciplinary modeling approach for the Huave Lagoon System (HLS), Mexico. This lagoon was selected because it has been used sustainably in various complimentary ways by different ethnic groups since pre-Hispanic times. Over the last few years, however, the ecological impact of artisanal fisheries in the region has grown significantly, thus endangering the balance between society and nature. Because the Huaves and the Zapotecs are ancestral fishing cultures with a profound knowledge of ecosystem resources and local property rights, the aim of this study was to identify ecosystem-level management alternatives capable of diminishing fishing impacts to the HLS. We used a consensus–building process and applied the user’s traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Our counterintuitive results show that specific management strategies should be considered for each particular fishing seascape within the HLS while taking into account the differences among ecological structures and fishery dynamics. The insights from this research aid in defining holistic management policies and support spatial allocations of use rights in local fisheries.

Key words

consensus-building process; ecosystem-level management alternatives; fishing seascape; loop analysis; pressure-state-response framework; traditional ecological knowledge; transdisciplinary modeling
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087