Towards biocultural diversity conservation. Knowledge, cultural values and governance of species at risk : the case of the White Sturgeon (Canada) and the Mekong Giant Catfish (Thailand)
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SubjectBiocultural conservation; Cultural Values; Giant Catfish; Traditional Ecological Knowledge; White Sturgeon
To better understand the concept of biocultural diversity and its value in species conservation, my research explored the role of local fishers’ knowledge and cultural values in decision-making about the conservation of threatened, culturally significant fish in the Lower Fraser River (Canada) and the Mekong River (Thailand). This thesis uses exploratory, qualitative research into the case of the White Sturgeon or “skō:wech” (Acipenser transmountanus), and the Mekong Giant Catfish or “Plaa buek” (Pangasius gigas). Through semi-structured interviews and a review of existing information, this research set out to determine: 1) What kinds of knowledge do local fishers have about threatened species? 2) Are Local and Traditional Ecological Knowledge influencing processes (research, assessment, monitoring) and informing conservation strategies for threatened species? If so, how? 3) Do cultural values influence conservation strategies for threatened species? If so, how? 4) Are there any opportunities to increase the role of local knowledge and cultural values to enhance existing conservation strategies and achieve both biological and cultural diversity conservation? Results suggest although there are some examples of success, there are opportunities to increase the influence local fishers’ knowledge and values have in current approaches employed to conserve species with special conservation status. Maintaining some level of traditional fishery, and support for cultural practices, education and outreach are critical aspects of maintaining culture, values and knowledge systems linked to these threatened species.
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