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Traditional Information Bulletin #21
Number 21 - October 2007



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 this issue we present two contributions that examine complex and important, yet neglected, topics. I sincerely hope that both will stimulate comment, additional research and practical application.

In the first article, “The sea turtle wars: Culture, war and sea turtles in The Republic of the Marshall Islands”, Regina Woodrom Rudrud, Julie Walsh Kroeker, Heather Young Leslie, and Suzanne S. Finney provide comprehensive documentation of an ongoing research project to examine human–sea turtle ecology from the perspective of environmental anthropology. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has the horrific distinction of having experienced close to a century of war and weapons testing, including 12 years of nuclear weapons testing. In that appalling historical and contemporary context the authors will conduct, cooperatively with the College of the Marshall Islands, an interdisciplinary project on human health risks and hazards and the impact of environmental toxicants, such as those related to war and weapons testing, on the viability of the sea turtle population. The cultural significance of sea turtles and their value as a continuing source of food for atoll populations is to be examined, as will traditional and contemporary Marshallese cultural, ecological and health knowledge regarding sea turtles, and sea turtle “flows” through marine and human ecosystems. Contemporary knowledge of sea turtle ecology, natural history and usage will be compared with historical and ethnographic accounts. (Further aspects of this comprehensive project are summarised in the “Abstract” to the article.)

In the second article, “Traditional authority and community leadership: Key factors in community-based marine resource management and conservation” based on research conducted in the outer islands of Fiji, Annette Muehlig-Hofmann looks at a subject that common sense tells us is critical, yet that has basically been ignored in the academic literature and overlooked in practical development. Community-based marine resource management projects are now commonplace in the Pacific and elsewhere. Yet the approach must contend with complex and varied challenges that include such rapid change in local social conditions as patterns of resource ownership, and such external pressures as outsider and foreign fishers, who place increasing pressure on resources. Muehlig-Hofmann documents changes over space and time as perceived by Fijian villagers in their natural and social environment, and that require adaptations by the community members. The author stresses that such changes are not considered in many community management plans, which assume the continued existence of a traditional communal hierarchy and order. This requires urgent reconsideration to overcome the challenge of adapting to ongoing and possible future changes while still supporting local livelihoods.

Kenneth Ruddle


The sea turtle wars: Culture, war and sea turtles in The Republic of the Marshall Islands
Woodrom Rudrud R., Walsh Kroeker J., Young Leslie H., Finney S.S. (pdf: 1 MB)
Traditional authority and community leadership: Key factors in community-based marine resource management and conservation
Muehlig-Hofmann A. (pdf: 1 MB)

Download the complete publication:

Traditional #21 (pdf: )


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