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Number 23 - October 2008



Group Co-ordinator and Bulletin Editor:
Kenneth Ruddle, Asahigaoka-cho 7-22-511, Ashiya-shi, Hyogo-ken, Japan 659-0012.

Information Section, Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division, SPC, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia

Produced with financial assistance from Australia, France and New Zealand.

Note from the editor

In the first article, “Outriggers Lost in the Sea of Time”, Thomas Malm suggests an interesting research topic focusing on perceptions about outrigger canoes to understand the relationship between social relations, biodiversity, and sustainable development under conditions of rapid cultural change on small islands and coastal areas in Oceania. The argument rests on the idea that outriggers can be seen as a “total social phenomenon” that enables understanding of various other aspects of the society to which they are connected.

Although I think this Information Bulletin should not be a vehicle for me to publish my own items, I hope that this one lapse will be forgiven. There have been several requests over the past year for copies of the “Introduction” that I wrote for a volume of Bob Johannes’ collected works. However, since it is an integral part of an electronic and conventional book, it is not possible to pull it out for distribution separately. Happily, the publisher agreed to permit reformatting and republication of the “Introduction” here, as the second article in this edition. It was originally prepared as a guide to the literature in the book of collected works, so I am not too sure how well it will stand separately. Please keep that in mind as you read this article!

That leads to another point that I have been thinking about for a few years. Along with many others, I have been studying old-established systems of fisheries management that are still widely used throughout the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in the Pacific Islands. (In Asia I have studied them in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, and others have examined them in Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia.) Such systems of property rights and associated regimes of rights and rules closely reflect local social organization and power structures. As a result, although some are very stable and enduring, others have eroded to varying degrees, and yet others have collapsed altogether. In the early-1990s we described the variety of pressures that act on such systems, and which trigger change. Given the success of basing new management on the pre-existing management in some Pacific Island nations, such as Samoa and Vanuatu, for example, it now seems an appropriate time to focus on the reasons for lack of success, and to examine particular local cases of erosion of systems, and what needs to be done to “repair” this damage as well as to modernize the system. Of course, there is a variety of issues that need to be looked at as we seek to use old systems for a modern purpose within radically changed economic and social environments. But there are also many issues that are common throughout the region (such as migration overwhelming traditional rights areas, particularly nearer urban centres, to name but one).

This Special Interest Group can provide a useful focus for this topic. I would appreciate receiving emails, particularly from within the Pacific Islands region, with comments and suggestions for research. If you have any papers, notes, extended comments, or other items ready to publish, we would be especially delighted to hear from you, and to publish your materials in future editions of this Information Bulletin.

Kenneth Ruddle


Outriggers lost in the sea of time: An overlooked aspect of cultural change and conditions for sustainable development in Oceania
Malm T. (pdf: 1 MB)
Introduction to the collected works of R.E. Johannes, publications on marine traditional knowledge and management
Ruddle K. (pdf: 109 KB)

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Traditional #23 (pdf: )


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