Over the past two years, a lot of science has been happening in our territories. Guided by the objectives of our Nations’ marine use plans, CCIRA scientists and their collaborators have been hard at work doing research that couples our traditional and local knowledge with modern scientific techniques to tackle questions about marine resources that matter to our people.
In the field our Watchmen have been conducting crab and rockfish surveys; in our communities, our elders and other knowledge holders have been sharing their insights with researchers; in the lab, our scientists have been analyzing data and publishing scientific papers.
Over just the last two years, we have published six papers in five top-notch journals. Much of this work has been focused on Dungeness crab and rockfish. These species are important traditional food sources for our Nations that have become so depleted it is difficult to meet our food needs. But there is a reason for hope.
We are the local experts
Working together our Nations have now completed the largest survey of Dungeness crab ever conducted for the central coast. We have also compiled the biggest dataset of rockfish size and abundance ever created for the inside waters of this region. With this knowledge, we have established ourselves as experts on the status of these species in our territories.
All this work is providing our Nations’ decision makers with new information to help guide their management decisions. This knowledge also strengthens our position in discussions with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Our research is seated in the context of upholding our Indigenous rights and laws; it is setting an example for the complementary use of science with traditional and local knowledge in marine research.
“We hope the hard data from our surveys will bolster our case with the DFO to create marine sanctuaries in certain areas to help support sustainable food fisheries for our Nations,” says Heiltsuk Acquatics Manager, Mike Reid.
Meanwhile, the scientific papers being published are spreading important new insights about the ecology, conservation status and management of crab and rockfish to international audiences. Our research is seated in the context of upholding our Indigenous rights and laws; it is setting an example for the complementary use of science with traditional and local knowledge in marine research.