Framing reciprocal contributions across Indigenous and artisanal fisheries: Exploring cases, conflicts, and future pathways




Ojeda, Jaime

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Throughout human history, Indigenous and local communities have been stewards of nature. Their practices often embody the value of reciprocity, fostering positive contributions of humans with other components of nature. Yet, during colonization, and more specifically with the rise of neoliberal policies and the dominance of market worldviews, we have become distanced from this nature-people reciprocity. Concepts like "ecosystem services" provide a framework for comprehending the vital functions that ecosystems play in many facets of human existence. However, they also inadvertently narrow the discourse to a unidirectional relationship: nature serving people. This perspective can obscure our responsibilities to care for and sustain the environment. In this dissertation, I unpack the nature-people reciprocity, exploring its theoretical and practical relevance for social-ecological systems. I frame this work in one of the oldest biocultural interactions: marine fishing practices. This dissertation has five chapters. In the introductory Chapter, I outline the rationale and objectives of the study, highlighting the gaps in current understandings of nature-people reciprocity. In the second Chapter, I introduce the concept of “reciprocal contributions,” which encompasses actions, interactions, and experiences between people and other components of nature that result in positive contributions and feedbacks that accrue to both directly or indirectly across different dimensions and levels (Chapter 2). Following this conceptual chapter, I draw on two case studies to understand how reciprocal contributions can emerge with a bi-hemispherical approach in diverse fishing settings. First, in Haida Gwaii (North America), I partnered with the Council of Haida Nation, Haida Fisheries, to research the ancestral relationships between Haidas and abalone, examining their reciprocal contributions. Here, I interviewed Haida knowledge holders who have lived through the tragedy of the commercial abalone fishing boom and subsequent decline. In this chapter, I discuss the harms of overfishing on reciprocal contributions to review the past and rethink future abalone management strategies (Chapter 3). Second, working with artisanal fishers in Patagonia (South America), I investigated the reciprocal contributions between these individuals and marine life, especially seabirds. Employing both ethnographic and ecological methodologies, I explore the intricate relationships between fishers and seabirds and discuss how these reciprocal contributions can serve as tools for studying the complex interactions between humans and nature within an ecosystem-based management framework (Chapter 4). In the concluding Chapter, I reflect on the theoretical and practical implications of reciprocal contributions through the themes of nature-people relationships and fisheries management. Ultimately, I hope that this dissertation serves as work to resituate the importance of reciprocity.



Reciprocity, Empathy, Stewardship, Sustainability, Biodiversity conservation