Floating Ideas Lecture - December 10th, 2018 at 7:00pm (Doors open 6:30)

Diving Back in Time: Applications at the Interface of Indigenous knowledge and Ecology

Yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) are a marine species of immense ecological, economic, and cultural value. The fish, which can live more than a century, are relied upon by commercial, recreational, and First Nations fishers alike. Like many species that are valued by multiple user groups, yelloweye rockfish have faced massive stock declines in British Columbia throughout the last century.

Coastal Indigenous Peoples worldwide have relied on fish and other marine resources for millennia, and continue to do so despite recent degradation of ocean systems by external forces. Their Indigenous knowledge and law, comprised of experiences, observations, beliefs, and lifeways, is relevant for modern marine management and conservation. In BC, Coastal First Nations are in the process of developing proprietary Marine Use Plans, that combine Indigenous knowledge with independently conducted ecological studies to inform local marine management decisions.

One key hurdle to managing yelloweye rockfish is a dearth of baseline data — no fishery-independent data is available for the species prior to 2002, confounding the setting of meaningful management and conservation goals. In partnership with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Wuikinuxv, Nuxalk, and Heiltsuk First Nations, our narrative endeavors to overcome these data limitations and inform management and conservation of yelloweye rockfishes by interweaving Indigenous knowledge and scientific data towards fuller understanding of the species. Ultimately, we documented important historical changes in yelloweye rockfish size and abundance, and emphasize the value of Indigenous-led management.

Lauren Eckert is a conservation scientist, adventure enthusiast, and Ph.D. student in the Applied Conservation Science lab at the University of Victoria. Her undergraduate career, which provided the privilege of ecological field experiences around the globe, exposed her to the complexities of interrelated social and ecological systems, and motivated her to delve into conservation science that upholds Indigenous knowledge and rights. Her recent work at the interface of social and ecological sciences aims to value local and Indigenous knowledge systems alongside empirical scientific studies using a community-engaged, Indigenous-led approach to conservation. Lauren completed her M.Sc. in a partnership led by the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Wuikinuxv, and Nuxalk First Nations on the Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada to contribute to their marine conservation strategies. Specifically, they examined how groundfish populations have changed over the last century in these territories, and how this information can inform management decisions by these Nations. Lauren began her Ph.D in 2017, continuing work at the University of Victoria with the intention of sustaining long-term partnerships with First Nations on the Central Coast. She is also a Raincoast Conservation Fellow and a National Geographic Explorer.


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