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Ocean & Coastal Management 52 (2009) 154–165

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Local ecological knowledge and the management of marine protected areas in Brazil Leopoldo C. Gerhardinger a, *, Eduardo A.S. Godoy b, Peter J.S. Jones c a

˜o de Estudos Costeiros e Marinhos – ECOMAR NGO, Rua Dr. Jose´ Andre´ da Cruz, 539, 45900-000 Caravelas (BA), Brazil Associaça ˜o da Biodiversidade, Diretoria de Unidade de Conservaça ˜o de Proteça ˜o Integral, Coordenaça ˜o do Bioma Marinho e Costeiro, Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservaça SCEN – Trecho 2, Ed Sede do IBAMA, CEP.: 70.818-900, Brazil c Department of Geography, University College London (UCL), Pearson Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom b

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history: Available online 30 December 2008

This manuscript discusses the role of fishers’ Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) in the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Brazil. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken at nine MPAs to investigate MPA managers’ (n ¼ 9) and higher governmental level authorities’ (n ¼ 5) perceptions on these. Varying levels of MPA governance approaches were assessed, from government-led centralized top-down (e.g. marine biological reserves) to community-based bottom-up MPA categories (e.g. marine extractive reserves). The use of fishers’ LEK was found to be an essential means of achieving a broader and more diverse knowledge basis for MPA management, though most of the management current in place is still science-driven in Brazil. The full engagement of local knowledge can also be regarded as a means of empowering local communities and promoting responsibility, but only if a more inclusive praxis of participation is put to work. Different meanings for ‘Local Knowledge Use’ in MPA management were outlined and described for different management approaches (top-down vs. bottom-up). It was noted that each of these meanings brings different outcomes in terms of stakeholder participation and empowerment. It is also suggested that MPA co-management schemes might benefit from the adoption of a ‘knowledge-building’ instead of ‘knowledge-using’ approach during a ‘problem-solving’ instead of ‘decision-making’ management process. Finally, it is concluded that it will be an enormous challenge to put LEK to work in the benefit of MPAs in the country amidst so many priority actions brought by the problems affecting the Brazilian National System of MPAs. Government must open up the agenda to deliberatively discuss the roles of local knowledge in MPA management, whilst local communities organise themselves and increase the demand for participation with responsibility. Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction This paper discusses the roles of fishers’ Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) within the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Brazil. The study of fishers’ LEK is increasingly gaining recognition in ichthyology studies [1,2], fisheries research

[3,4], fisheries management [5,6], marine conservation [7–9] and in the design and management of MPAs [10–12]. International conventions and conferences such as the Convention on Biological Diversity1 (CDB) and the fifth IUCN World Parks Congress2 (Durban 2003) also acknowledge the importance of engaging local knowledge and their holders in the management of MPAs.

* Corresponding author. Tel./fax: þ55 47 84015945. E-mail address: (L.C. Gerhardinger). URL: 1 As part of a programme of work addressing the commitments embodied in Article 8(j) (in situ conservation) and other provisions of the CBD dealing with traditional knowledge, governments have undertaken: to establish mechanisms to ensure the effective participation of indigenous and local communities in decision-making and policy planning and; to respect, preserve and maintain traditional knowledge relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; to promote its wider application with the approval and involvement of the indigenous and local communities concerned and; to encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such traditional knowledge.’’ 2 The IUCN World Parks Congress (Durban, 2003), called the international community as a whole, in Reccomendation 5.22(1:k), to: ‘‘engage stakeholders including local and traditional communities through participatory processes in the design, planning and management and, sharing of benefits of MPAs’’. 0964-5691/$ – see front matter Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2008.12.007

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The use and incorporation of fishers’ LEK are well recognized as an important component of collaborative or community-based management schemes [13]. The use of LEK has the potential to increase stakeholder participation, heighten awareness of benefits from effective management regimes and increase stakeholder buyin, thus enhancing the long-term sustainability of MPAs [14,15]. By engaging fishers’ LEK in the management of marine resources, the expected outcomes are often linked to increased participation, compromise, responsibility and empowerment of stakeholders in the management process [16–19]. Incorporating LEK, customs and beliefs are also considered an important means of increasing the effectiveness of MPA communication, environmental education and monitoring programs [20]. LEK is often considered a unique source of information in remote areas, far from research centres, where local ecological and social systems are poorly understood [21,11]. LEK is thus especially important in tropical inshore coasts, such as a large part of the Brazilian coastline, where detailed scientific knowledge on local human use and ecological processes of the seascape are often not readily available [21,13,22,23,11]. The lack of scientific information in such places may be in part due to the logistical and financial limitations of marine research, and the historical lag of marine sciences behind other well studied terrestrial environments [24]. Although it is arguably clear that LEK has a role within marine conservation initiatives [7,8,18], the ways through which it is integrated, represented and validated within MPAs management and design still need further exploration, as only a few noteworthy case studies and theoretical analyses have been published to date on this specific topic [25,11]. Based on interviews with Brazilian MPA and fisheries authorities from many different levels, this paper provides an in depth analysis of the past and prospective uses of LEK for MPA management. This paper: i) outlines the categories of LEK that are useful for MPA management; ii) shows how LEK has been employed in the management of MPAs at varying levels of restriction and government control and; iii) discusses the issue of knowledge and vested interests. Finally, this paper presents a conceptual model of knowledge use and transfer in MPA management, based on the experience of MPA managers in Brazil.


simplification when conceptualizing the essential concepts of traditional and western scientific knowledge and developing a dichotomy between the two knowledge systems. There are vastly more than two knowledge cultures in both categories [32]. It is not the intention of this manuscript to deeply discuss both knowledge paradigms, a subject well summarised by Mazzocchi [31]. It is, however, important to recognize that they are different knowledge systems and are sometimes difficult to compare, but the challenge of integration is a necessary one if we hope to reach dialogue and build a shared understanding to address marine conservation challenges. 1.2. Varying approaches to marine conservation in Brazil Amongst the 12 possible categories of protected areas in Brazil, five are more commonly allocated to marine environments: Biological Reserves, Ecological Stations, National Parks, Environmental Protection Areas and Extractive Reserves. We present here these MPA categories in three broad conceptual management approaches (Fig. 1), two of which (bottom-up and top-down) are well described by Jones [33]. Top-down initiatives are those typically led and dominated by governments, with decisions and priorities defined by government authorities at various levels (local, national, international). Authorities use power over decisions to guarantee the accomplishment of strategic statutory obligations. Top-down initiatives are largely reliant on statutory enforcement. Biological Marine Reserves, Ecological Stations and National Parks are here categorized as top-down, as they forbid all extractive uses, even research being regulated/restricted, and have management councils in place only to guide decisions taken by relevant authorities. On the bottom opposite half of Fig. 1 lays Marine Extractive Reserves (RESEX), which are truly community-based MPAs, with management decisions being taken at a local level. In RESEX sites, government grants territorial user rights for fisheries to artisanal

1.1. LEK and ethnoecology We opted for the term LEK (instead of traditional, indigenous or native ecological knowledge) because it is the broadest definition describing the knowledge of all local marine resource users. LEK is presumed here to constitute a ‘body’ or a ‘system’ of shared understandings and know-how with regard to environmental factors, behavioural attributes and ecological dynamics [26]. In Brazil, the field of ethnoecology and its subdisciplines (e.g. ethnoichthyology) is now well established. Hundreds of fishermen’s communities scattered along the coast offer enormous opportunities for mutual learning amongst fishermen, resource users, academics and regulators. It is estimated that marine fisheries employs 800,000 people in the country [27]. Ethnoecology is practically defined by Marques [28] as the ‘‘scientific study of traditional ecological knowledge’’. In order to be recognized as ‘ethnoecology’, research requires a certain combination or cross-comparison of knowledge systems against each other to find similarities, divergences and complementarities. Ethnoichthyology specifically deals with the scientific study of LEK on fish populations and can be regarded as a branch of ethnoecology [29,30]. In this paper, for practical purposes ‘western’ or ‘scientific’ knowledge refers to knowledge systems that are rooted in the mainstream western academia [31]. There is a risk of over-

Fig. 1. Categories of MPAs assessed and their varying degrees of restriction. Consultative Management Councils (CMC) only inform government authorities in their decisions; while Deliberative Management Councils (DMC’s) have a majority of community members, government has only one vote and the role of facilitating discussions.


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fishermen communities. RESEX management councils comprise representatives from local communities and disseminate power locally to approve or reject every management norm. Bottom-up initiatives typically devolve power to local stakeholders. Local governance becomes important, which empowers local communities to pro-actively drive management in ‘collaboration’ with relevant authorities. In bottom-up initiatives, the relevant authority’s role shifts from ‘controller’ to ‘facilitator’ and stakeholders are able to influence and share control over the decisions affecting them [34]. The RESEX protected area category emerged after an intense social movement in the Amazon in mid-1980s, in order to reconcile the extractive use of the forest (rubber-tappers) with nature conservation [35]. For the purpose of this analysis we propose a third category lying somewhere between the two opposite ends of MPA management scale: a ‘mixed approach’. Environmental Protection Areas (EPA) are considered as such as they have management council with limited powers and the ultimate decision is made by local government authorities in collaboration with local users. Zoning into extractive and no-take areas is provided for in EPAs but these powers are arguably devolved and more flexible.

Interviewees were questioned about their personal rather than institutional viewpoint. Therefore, it is important to note that the viewpoints herein presented do not represent an official government opinion. 3. Results and discussion 3.1. What categories of LEK are useful for MPAs management in managers’ perceptions? MPA managers were asked their opinion on the categories of LEK most useful to inform decisions regarding the management of their sites. In broad terms, the knowledge of resource users regarding spatial distributions and seasonal variations of resources and human uses of the seascape within the MPA were the most valued type of knowledge. This can be summarised as ‘where’ resources and their users are located in space and time. Other types of knowledge categories were mentioned as valuable, including knowledge on tidal cycles, species migrations, sustainable resource exploitation rates, site history, birds, navigation, wind behaviour and cycles of nature (Box 2).

2. Methods Site visits were made to nine Brazilian MPAs (Fig. 2) located in four states (Santa Catarina, Sa˜o Paulo, Bahia and Pernambuco), where each local government authority (hereafter MPA officer or manager) was interviewed using a semi-structured approach to balance consistency and flexibility (Table 1). Additionally, semistructured interviews were held in Brasilia, the nations’ capital city, with authorities from five government bodies belonging to the Ministry of Environment and ‘Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity’ (ICMBio). The Ministry of Environment is the Brazilian national governments’ institution responsible for the design of all national environmental policies, including the broad-scale plan of a National System of Protected Areas (NSPAs). ICMBio is the Brazilian federal government’s executive environmental agency. This institution has statutory responsibility for delivering national biodiversity conservation policies, including the implementation of the NSPAs (terrestrial and marine). Interviews were carried out in May/June 2007. Each interview covered issues related to LEK use in the management of MPAs (Box 1).

Box 1. Semi-structured interview topics. What is Local Ecological Knowledge from the institutional and individual perspective Categories of local ecological knowledge useful for marine protected area management How LEK has been affecting the planning and management of the site (provide actual examples) Willingness and prospects for enhancing the use of LEK Challenges that have to be overcome in order to provide practical mechanisms to engage local knowledge in marine protected area management Discuss issue of vested interests in science and local knowledge and how to avoid them

The interviews were recorded and a report of the main issues discussed was sent to each interviewee for their comments and corrections. The intention was purposely to get a perspective from within government on LEK and the management of MPAs.

Box 2. Categories of local ecological knowledge useful for Marine Protected Area (MPA) management according to Brazilian MPA officer citations. Number of citations is given in the parenthesis. Knowledge on species/resource distribution within the MPA (4) Seasonal variation of resource availability (4) Methods and resource exploitation dynamics (3) Sustainable exploitation rates (2) Navigation (2) Migration (2) Tides (2) Birds (2) Wind (2) Cycles of nature (2) History of the site (e.g. history of human use and occupation) (1) Temporal variation on resource size being exploited (1) Traditional nomenclature of particular sites (1) Impacts of harvesting over resources (1) Size of resources being exploited (1) Shellfish spawning period (1) Species composition (1) Species interaction (1) Bottom mapping (1) Species biology (1) Reproduction (1) Moon cycle (1) Currents (1) Climate (1) Rain (1)

The utility of LEK systems for MPAs was also acknowledged on the basis of their: value to define new MPA sites, utility for patrolling activities (i.e. knowing where and when to focus effort), and usefulness as baseline data on less researched/assessable areas of the site. Additionally to these categories, we may add those suggested by Diegues [36] such as information on fish spawning aggregation sites, fishing grounds, landing sites, documentation of marine related human activities, species population size, habitat specificity,

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Fig. 2. Four states were visited and interviews made with MPA officers at each location. From the bottom upwards, black dots represent the states of Santa Catarina, Sa˜o Paulo, Bahia and Pernambuco.

dietary preferences, spawning and mating behaviours, ontogenetic shifts in populations, fish behaviour, location and distribution, folk habitat classification and folk-taxonomy. Stakeholder involvement in establishing MPAs in Colombia has played an important role in moving the designation process forward. Through the work of Friedlander et al. [25], fishermen have identified several important areas that should receive more restrictive protection (e.g. shallow mangrove and other nursery areas). They also documented LEK information on the status of fisheries, gears locally used, locations of fishing activity, trends in landings and resource allocation conflicts. Friedlander et al. [24] also concluded that both science and community knowledge are imperative for MPAs if ecological and cultural sustainability are to be achieved. Helvey [37] highlighted that including fishermen perceptions on larvae source locations are crucial for MPA ecological success, and the participation process may well generate increased compliance.

As seen above, the literature abounds with examples of the use of many categories of LEK in MPA management or design and how LEK has contributed to MPA management or design effectiveness. There is therefore a vast scope for interdisciplinary exchange amongst fishermen and scientists. It is important to note however that these LEK categories exist only in the scope of western science. LEK is usually holistic in nature and the best research should make this fact an important issue when documenting and specially communicating knowledge back to the community. Most knowledge categories presented above are closely related to ecological attributes of a particular site. On the other hand, relevant knowledge includes other categories such as spiritual beliefs and other culturally embedded knowledge systems equally, if not more important for the success of MPA management. One should also consider that the categories listed here might differ substantially if fishermen themselves were asked to provide their own view on what type of knowledge they would classify as useful.

Table 1 Features of the 9 MPAs assessed in Brazil. Marine protected area

Designation date/size/category/ location


Pirajubae´ Marine Extractive Reserve 1990 (1444 ha) Sustainable use South Mangroves, mud plains, coastal marine Brazil

Main objectives and noteworthy characteristics

Sustainable fisheries, maintain local culture, shellfish, cultural maintenance Mandira Marine Extractive Reserve 2002 (1181 ha) Sustainable use Mangrove, estuarine Sustainable shellfish (e.g. oyster) Southern Brazil exploitation, sustainable fisheries, cultural maintenance Arvoredo Biological Marine Reserve 1989 (17,600 ha) Non-use South Brazil Rainforest cover, marine offshore, rocky Biodiversity conservation, high shorelines marine biodiversity, economically important reef finfish species Abrolhos Marine National Park 1983 (91,235 ha) Non-use Northern Coral reefs, islands, offshore marine Coral reef conservation, whale Brazil conservation and sustainable tourism Tupiniquins Ecological Station 1986 (43 ha) Non-use Southern Brazil Rocky shoreline, island, coastal marine Marine biodiversity conservation, research Costa dos Corais Environmental 1997 (413,563 ha) Sustainable use Coral reefs, coastal inshore Sustainable tourism and fisheries, Protection Area Northern Brazil coral reef conservation Canane´ia-Iguape-Peruı´be 1984 (234,000 ha) Sustainable use Rainforest, coastal inshore, estuarine, Sustainable fisheries ´ Environmental Protection Area Southern Brazil mangroves Baleia Franca Environmental 2000 (156,100 ha) Sustainable use Coastal and offshore marine, rainforest, Sustainable tourism and fisheries, Protection Area South Brazil mangroves, coastal lagoons whale conservation Anhatomirim Environmental 1992 (3000 ha) Sustainable use South Mangroves, rainforest, rocky shorelines Sustainable fisheries and tourism, Protection Area Brazil dolphin conservation

Management approach Bottom-Up




Top-Down Mixed Approach Mixed approach Mixed Approach Mixed Approach


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3.2. LEK within different management approaches LEK input in decision-making of the top-down MPAs visited was regarded as almost non-existent (Arvoredo MBR) or poor (Tupiniquins ES and Abrolhos MNP) (Table 2). LEK input was in this case associated with stakeholder contributions at the management council level (Arvoredo MBR and Abrolhos MNP) or through reports and studies developed by scientists (all three study cases). It is worth remembering here that the purpose of the management council in top-down sites is simply to ‘inform’ the decisions ultimately taken by the officer in charge of the MPA. It was obvious during interviews and explicitly put by MPA managers that conventional scientific knowledge is the main source of information supporting the management of these sites. The bottom-up character of RESEXs is assured by the existence of Deliberative Management Councils, whereby decisions regarding the site’s management are largely taken by council representatives. LEK is poorly used at Pirajubae´ RESEX but, by contrast, very much used in the decision-making process of Mandira RESEX. In the former case, although a few examples of LEK contribution in decision-making were provided by the MPA officer (largely discussions regarding shellfish exploitation norms), the absence of a working Deliberative Management Council poses an enormous barrier for LEK input. In fact, the site has a history of conflicts and despite being one of the first Marine Extractive Reserves in the country, it was never properly implemented according to the sites’ officer. Furthermore, the type of ongoing resource management is ‘too

academic’ according to the interviewee’s own words, mainly through shellfish ecology research. By contrast, at Mandira RESEX the Deliberative Management Council offers an outstanding stance for LEK input into discussions of norms regarding sustainable exploitation and conservation of oysters, fish and other local resources. The support of social scientists was also considered important according to the interviewee. Mandira RESEX is in fact one of the most well studied RESEXs in Brazil [38]. Centralized government fisheries’ management interventions have proven to be inadequate [39–41] to face the current crisis in world fisheries. This has fuelled the expansion of bottom-up approaches as an alternative to top-down policies [42]. In South America, the experience of Chile in granting territorial user rights for fisheries to artisanal fisher organizations stands out as a welldocumented successful conservation strategy [43,44]. The 20 Brazilian marine RESEX designated so far somehow parallel the Chilean management approach. However, the extent to which they have being delivering conservation benefits within the Brazilian tropical and culturally diverse scenario is not known. To date, few controlled experiments have being done to evaluate their conservation outcomes. At Corumbau RESEX, for instance, despite some positive biological effects have been scientifically measured, not much was felt in terms of improved livelihoods [45]. We suggest that local ecological knowledge could play an important role in evaluating biological success of such MPAs. Engaging elderly and well-experienced fishers and their knowledge in evaluating MPA

Table 2 Summary of knowledge use in the 9 MPAs assessed in Brazil. Marine protected area

Management council attributes

Summary of perceived local and scientific knowledge roles in site management

Predominant observed pathways

Pirajubae´ Marine Extractive Reserve

Do not have a management council in place nor a management plan

Substantial scientific research being done. Local knowledge poorly used to guide management decisions

Mandira Marine Extractive Reserve

Management council deliberates over decisions. Has management plan

Arvoredo Biological Marine Reserve

Management council only informs decisions. Has a management plan

Abrolhos Marine National Park

Management council only informs decisions. Has management plan

Tupiniquins Ecological Station Costa dos Corais Environmental Protection Area

Do not have a management council in place. Do not have a management plan Do not have a working management council in place. Has no management plan

Canane´ia-Iguape-Peruı´be Environmental Protection A´rea

Management council only informs decisions. Do not have a management plan

Baleia Franca Environmental Protection Area

Management council only informs decisions. Do not have management plan

Anhatomirim Environmental Protection Area

Do not have a management council in place. Do not have management plan

Local knowledge predominantly used to base decisionmaking. Local people’s knowledge contributes directly during management councils meetings. Scientific studies on local knowledge also common. Scientific ecological knowledge has also a role to inform decision through a few studies available Scientific knowledge main decision-making driver. LEK input almost unnoticeable, occasionally through management council debates or scientific reports Scientific knowledge main driver. Poor local knowledge input, eventually contributing at council meetings or through a few scientific studies Scientific knowledge main driver. Poor local knowledge input, only through a few scientific studies Scientific knowledge reasonably available. Local knowledge poorly available. Management at the site is almost inexistent Local and scientific knowledge studies are both available through published research and grey reports. Manager deeply acknowledges the role of local knowledge because he is a local himself. The contribution of social research groups has increased the acknowledgment of the role of local knowledge in management Scientific knowledge present through several published and unpublished research. The contribution of social research groups has significantly increased the acknowledgment and input of local knowledge in decision-making. Local knowledge also present through active participation of local people in the management council meetings Scientific knowledge available through published and unpublished research. Poor local knowledge input. Management at the site is almost inexistent

Pathway 4 predominant, while pathway 2 might occur at informal meetings. Pathway 1 apparently not present due to strong process of acculturation Pathways 2 and 3 predominant, but path 4 may also occur. Pathway 1 likely common

Pathway 4 predominant. Pathways 2 and 3 rarely Pathway 4 predominant, while pathways 2 and 3 might eventually occur Pathway 4 predominant, with few cases of pathway 3 Pathway 4 might be possible if management is put forward Pathways 3 and 4 occur. Pathway 2 may occur to a greater extent if local people increase their participation in council meetings Signs of pathways 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 have been observed

Pathway 4 predominant, but may contribute further if management is put forward

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success could not only extend the time scale analysis, but also bring other equally, if not more important, dimensions of communitybased management approaches under evaluation (e.g. strengthening local culture and economy). Amongst the four ‘mixed approach’ MPA sites assessed, different levels of LEK influence in the management were observed. At Costa dos Corais and Anhatomirim EPA, where neither management plans nor management councils are currently in place, no LEK input was reported simply because officers said that not much management was occurring. On the other hand, the experience of Canane´iaIguape-Peruı´be and Baleia Franca EPAs in bringing LEK into decisionmaking is much broader. Three shared characteristics favouring the use of LEK in the management of these sites can be outlined. Firstly, management councils are in place with fishermen’s representatives actively participating and contributing in the discussions. Secondly, the management approaches ‘adopted’ by the officers explicitly acknowledged LEK as a core component of decision-making. At Canane´ia-Iguape-Peruı´be EPA, for instance, the interviewee argued that he was more open to LEK because he was a local himself. Thirdly, both sites have been well studied and supported by social scientists (e.g. ethnoecologists, human ecologists and anthropologists). The impression was that such studies developed at their sites have had significant impacts on their viewpoints and substantially contributed to the management approaches adopted in their sites. Management councils constitute a very important platform for LEK input into MPA management decision-making. However, LEK influence in MPA management occurs by various other ways, which are of equal or sometimes greater importance. For instance, even an informal meeting or conversation between an MPA officer and any stakeholder (e.g. scientist or local fishermen) can bring substantial influence in the decision made by the former. This was clearly revealed by one of the MPA officers: ‘‘A researcher can come to me and say something about what is going on, or hand me a report, I will listen the same. A fisherman can come to me and say something or hand me a written document through a fishermen syndicate or guild.both can bring me stuff on paper and both can bring me stuff orally’’. The informal and oral character of LEK systems does not have the same power and strength as conventional scientific knowledge, which is perceived as being well organised and built upon rigid methodologies. This rationale is implicit in the words of the same officer when making the case for more stakeholder organisation: ‘‘They have to organise themselves in order to increasingly bring information to us and make us comprehend and say ‘They’re right!’’’. This shows a certain viewpoint shared by many of the MPA managers interviewed that LEK is often not readily available nor systematised for decision-making. This same perspective has also been reported by Anuchiracheeva et al. [46] and Drew [8]. A second underlying assumption can be noticed in the above quote, one that places the responsibility and interest of bringing relevant LEK on fishermen themselves. This assumption is more characteristic of more restrictive/ top-down MPA, whereas relevant authorities assume a greater responsibility to engage local people in more bottom-up MPA sites. A third observation is that when transferring to local stakeholders the responsibility and interest on LEK communication, MPA officers might be indirectly revealing the lack of human resources and work overload in the site. The same officer cited above admits being unable to communicate himself with as many fishermen as he would like to. There are a number of attributes particular to the marine environment that pose particular challenges to the management of MPAs. These attributes and its implications for MPAs strategies


were recently reviewed by Jones [33] and Carr et al. [47]. Amongst these attributes are the lack of scientific knowledge due to logistical challenges, high research costs and the complexity/connectivity of marine ecosystems. The implication for management is that decisions must be taken in the face of high degrees of uncertainty. Carlsson and Berkes [48] have argued that the input of LEK could catalyse more adaptable and flexible management systems that are more able to deal with uncertainty and surprise. A commonly heard local knowledge limitation is that of a small geographical scale. Understanding the dynamics of marine species populations over larger scales (connectivity and source-sink areas debate) is important when planning MPA site locations. Linking the local aspect of fishermen knowledge with larger scale ecological understanding and planning is still a challenge. In such occasions, ethnoecologists could be important mediators and build a larger picture of ecological processes by bridging knowledge from several fishermen informants (e.g. [49]). This approach could result in limited empowerment if a scope for fishermen participation in decision-making is not guaranteed, as discussed later in this manuscript. While bridging LEK to such a broad planning scale seems challenging, a diverse set of methods are available and could offer important insights (e.g. gis-based approaches such as SITES, Marxan and Ocean 3E) and experiences in California (USA) and other locations [50] indicate that the challenges can be overcome though the use of such methods. In face of the potential prospects for LEK contribution in MPA design and management seen even in top-down approaches, we suggest that future rounds of expert review of priority areas for sitting MPAs in Brazil open the framework to include local stakeholder input. 3.3. Knowledge and vested interests The issue of how knowledge might be affected by personal interests was brought up during interviews. Most MPA officers interviewed argued that both academic and local knowledge are affected by personal interests. Many examples of how such ‘vested interests’ interfered with the management of each site were reported by interviewees, two of which are given below as illustrations. The issue of tropical shrimp farming was recurrently brought up as an example of how academia can be contradictory. This debate was eminently relevant at Baleia Franca EPA site, where it was a recent discussion topic within the management council. According to the MPA officer, council representatives realised and were intrigued to know that one could find scientists technically supporting the environmental sustainability of shrimp farms as well as scientists totally disagreeing with the possible sustainability of such enterprises. Following further this debate, it is interesting to know that there was an apparent common reached understanding amongst council representatives that science cannot answer everything, and local knowledge should therefore be valued. Local ecological knowledge is also affected by local priorities that are not necessarily sustainable according to most interviewees. Again another example from Baleia Franca EPA site clearly illustrates this recurrent argument. Fishermen living in the surroundings of one of the MPAs coastal lagoons (Camacho’s lagoon) have the success of their fishery dependent on the seasonal opening of the lagoon’s mouth. Traditionally, this opening was done by local fishermen themselves through a similar traditional system well described by Seixas and Berkes [51] for another nearby lagoon, allowing fish, seawater and shrimp larvae to be fed into the lagoon. Nowadays, the opening of the lagoon is done by heavy machinery paid by a sand mining company that exploits the inner lagoon. Traditional fishermen knowledge associated to the lagoon mouth


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opening customary practice is eroding and a dependence on the financial support of the mining company was developed. According to the officer perception, this situation might have led fishermen to support mining activities within the lagoon and ignore its co-lateral negative environmental effects. In Puerto Morelos (Mexico), the negotiation of an MPA amongst local stakeholders was unfolding easily until it was realised that the area could represent a major investment. From this moment on, Rodrı´guez-Martı´nez [15] reports that the interests of local stakeholders were polarized and opposition started to develop. This situation is recurrently observed in the designation of MPAs in Brazil (LCG pers. obs.), and is likely to have implications in terms of the inclination of stakeholders to provide ‘true’ LEK. Another viewpoint places and values scientific knowledge on a higher level, with likely implications for management decisionmaking processes. This paradigm sees science as free of vested interests and is supported by the following argument: ‘‘.considering that it is there [scientific knowledge] without particular interests, simply the interest of understanding a given region, place or species, I believe that it [scientific knowledge] does not enter the merit of favouring one side or the other’’. On many occasions MPA officers mentioned at some point that mechanisms should be developed and put in place in order to ‘filter’ knowledge content. The ‘filter’, drawn from MPA officers’ perceptions, can be thought of as mechanisms that analyse and validate information that feeds into decision-making processes. Furthermore, they should also facilitate dialogue and communication between local and scientific knowledge. The idea of filtering mechanisms was associated with the role in MPA management played by social scientists (e.g. ethnoecologists), multidisciplinary teams, managers and management councils: On the role of social scientists: ‘‘.an ethnoecologist or social scientist would be a person transiting between the community and the academia, who can systematise and summarise both knowledge systems’’. On the role of management councils: ‘‘.within the council this issue [vested interests] is diluted. You submit it [knowledge] to approval of other institutions, other people. I think this is a type of social control’’. On the role of managers:

Recognizing the debate surrounding the meaning of the term institutions [52] it is used in this analysis to represent local informal rules built and shared by a given community, which are not supported by official government legislation. They are rules that are in force, but most of the times are not perceived and used by planners and by officials and representatives of environmental agencies for conservation measures [53]. Official management institutions are considered here as norms and stances regulating the management of MPAs but framed by the Brazilian official legal system, including management councils, decrees, management plans, normative instructions. 3.5. Pathways of knowledge use and transfer in marine spatial management Fig. 3 shows the several pathways of knowledge in marine spatial management. The numbers and letters in the arrows indicate the pathways explained further ahead in the paper. 3.5.1. Pathway 1: LEK informs local institutions In this process LEK systems inform a given group’s decision regarding the management and community access to local resources. The existence of such LEK and customary institutions has long being documented in Brazil [36,54] and other parts of the world [55]. They represent an important research field because both the local knowledge base and traditional management institutions such as these described here are gradually disappearing due to acculturation processes [12,56,57]. A good example is described by Seixas and Berkes [51] at Ibiraquera Lagoon, Santa Catarina State (within the Baleia Franca EPA). Fishermen have traditionally organised themselves to seasonally interplay with the local environment by actively opening the lagoon estuary, which was closed by accumulated sand at a given point of every year. This local and traditional management measure or institution was done in order to feed the lagoon with fishery resources. Decisions regarding the opening procedures (e.g. seasonal timing) were subsidized by a detailed knowledge on the cycles of nature (oceanographic patterns) and resources (shrimp and finfish) [51]. Furthermore, a complex system regulating community access and partition of local common pool resources was in place, always subsidized by a robust LEK system. Another example provided by the officer in charge of Baleia Franca EPA was the community mobilization in the removal of a dangerous ‘big stone’ that was causing several boat accidents at

‘‘Science can reach divergent conclusions on the analysis of the same environmental problem, and the manager has the role to filter’’. ‘‘.the manager, he is the most interested person. The researcher is there to do his job and leave. The manager will continue to be there, he has the responsibility [to use the most adequate knowledge]’’.

3.4. Conceptual model of knowledge use and transfer in the management of Brazilian MPAs The conceptual model presented here was designed in collaboration with MPA managers and higher-level authorities during the course of the interviews. A preliminary sketch was shown to the first interviewee and subsequently re-discussed in the following interviews. Whenever possible, each suggested pathway was illustrated with actual history-lines of LEK use in the management of the assessed MPA or other known examples from other MPAs in the country or relevant literature.

Fig. 3. Conceptual model of knowledge use and transfer in the management of Brazilian MPAs.

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a given community. The issue was serious and after a fatality occurred the removal of the ‘big stone’ was so important it was taken to the management council so it could be discussed and gain the support of other institutions such as the Fire Service and the Navy. However, community leaders and fishermen decided to proceed with the removal themselves, drawing on their knowledge of local seabed features and nautical expertise. The six tonne rock was removed without the use of dynamite by twelve men working over three days, who managed to pull the stone out of the water using a complex improvised system of ropes and pulleys. In both these cases LEK directly supported important MPA management decisions and actions. 3.5.2. Pathway 2: local knowledge informing official institutions through direct stakeholder participation In this process local knowledge directly influences formal decisions and culminates in an official norm/legislation. LEK influences management institutions by the direct act of participation of fishermen in management discussions, which are usually held within a management council meeting or another meeting where oral communication prevails. In fact, this process was one of the most recurrently cited mechanisms of local knowledge input in decision-making in the visited MPAs. During such meetings, fishermen’s representatives provide their knowledge in support of a given subject under deliberation. MPA management councils were also considered one of the most important platforms for LEK input, in both top-down and bottom-up MPAs. For example, in the Mandira RESEX some fishermen were taking dead wood remnants out of particular estuarine channels during low tide, in order to be able to gain access to fish by setting up gillnets that would otherwise become entangled. The issue was brought into discussion in the MPAs Deliberative Management Council. Other fishermen and community members argued that dead wood remnants should be left untouched because they provided shelter and nursery grounds for fish, and this argument based on LEK was accepted. The decision favouring the maintenance of wood remnants was made an official norm by the MPAs management plan. A similar decision was taken prohibiting the extraction of large oysters inhabiting deep oyster banks of the estuary. Large individuals were valued for their high reproductive potential and the deep oyster banks where they occurred should function as repositories of oyster larvae (source areas). 3.5.3. Pathway 3: the role of ethno-sciences in LEK input into official management institutions In this process LEK feeds management decision-making after being documented and analysed by social scientists. Several disciplines have traditionally dealt with local knowledge systems, i.e. anthropology, human ecology and ethnoecology. It is not the intention here to discuss the role of the each discipline in detail and their inherent and specific approaches to study LEK systems. Definitions aside, the role of these ethno-sciences in the knowledge transfer pathway presented here can be thought of as a ‘synthesisfilter-translation’ mechanism. LEK here is usually gathered, documented, systematised, analysed and communicated by a scientist. Each step is diverse in methods and approaches, with different ethical and practical implications for management decisionmaking. A few examples are given in order to illustrate this process. In the state of Santa Catarina, Gerhardinger et al. [12,49] gathered the LEK of fishermen in Babitonga Bay in order to map goliath grouper aggregation sites. The goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara is a critically endangered species of marine fish that potentially reaches 450 kg and lives 40 years. These maps are currently being used to support the definition of the borders of a local candidate MPA.


At Tupiniquins ES, one of the first fisheries assessments was done through the use of cognitive mapping with resource users. According to the MPA officer, the research team has used fishermen’s LEK to map fishing grounds with varying levels of fishing intensity. Again, scientists mediated the gathering and analysis of LEK that fed reports later submitted to the MPA authority. The Baleia Franca EPA officer described an ongoing study at the Carijo´s ES (Santa Catarina State). Fishermen claim that the MPA should protect the upper estuary where the main nursery areas are found instead of prohibiting fishing activities in the productive lower areas of the estuary, as this holds several fishing grounds traditionally important for their livelihoods. According to the interviewee, a multidisciplinary group of scientists are currently applying several methodologies (including resource user cognitive maps and traditional ichthyology approaches) that will support a possible future recategorization and re-definition of the MPA borders. The MPA officer argued that there are good chances of changing the MPA design based on the LEK and livelihood requirements of local fishermen. 3.5.4. Pathway 4: conventional, scientific knowledge informing official management institutions This is a very common process of knowledge input in the management of MPAs in Brazil. All sites, including bottom-up sites such as the marine extractive reserves, abounded with examples of research or research groups of various disciplines having done or currently undertaking research. All sites had shelves filled with printouts of papers, grey reports and graduate dissertation and theses. Nevertheless, marine sciences and correlated disciplines are relatively recent in Brazil, and therefore knowledge gaps are present on many fields [22]. 3.5.5. Pathways 5 and 6: local\informal institutions shaping hybrid management institutions Frequently, local institutions can be made official by the government authority through a decree or any type of legal document (Pathway 5, Fig. 3). The idea embodied in this pathway is to build up on existent or recover traditional management institutions that have suffered from acculturation process and use them to tie up official institutions. These newly shaped institutions are likely to result in further community compromise and enforcement because they derive from norms that are or were already bound by local social relations [55]. This is consistent with the argument that topdown institutions should reinforce, rather than displace, local customary institutions for natural resource management [34]. There are cases where LEK is ‘blended’ with conventional science and builds on a local institution during the process of turning it to an official norm (Pathway 6, Fig. 3) [55]. Again, the work of Seixas and Berkes [51] illustrates how an academic research can perform as a mediator between the community, relevant authorities and other regulatory bodies and stances. They have recorded, through several social research methodologies, the local history on the traditional management institutions of local communities at Ibiraquera Lagoon, where today government is engaged in the designation of a marine RESEX. The MPA will establish the grounds for a hybrid management system, which sums the benefits of customary (e.g. system already socially bound) and official (e.g. statutory enforcement) systems. At Arraial do Cabo RESEX, Silva [56] has shown that this community-based MPA has not yet managed to replace or strengthen fishermen institutions. 3.6. Knowledge transfer amongst stakeholder groups The knowledge transfer pathways illustrated here represents the process of knowledge sharing through informal oral


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communication or other mechanisms of information exchange (e.g. newspaper, magazines, TV, lectures) amongst stakeholder groups of a given MPA. Pathways u, v, w and x are outlined in the diagram in order to detach the role of ethno-sciences as a ‘mediator’ of different knowledge systems. Pathways u and v show the communication channels between ethnoscientists and holders of LEK, while w and x represent the knowledge transfer between ethnoscientists and more ‘hard’ scientific disciplines (e.g. ecology, oceanography and its subfields). Pathways y and z show that as well as scientists gaining knowledge through conversations with fishermen, owners of LEK also learn and are influenced by scientists and their research outcomes. A scientist’s hypothesis, for instance, often derives from local peoples’ experience with nature (pathway y), e.g. an informal conversation between a scientist and a fisherman may generate a process of hypothesis creation and testing in the minds of both. These oral communication pathways of knowledge transfer and mutual learning mechanisms were clearly outlined by one MPA higher-level authority interviewed: ‘‘The academic researcher, he uses a lot traditional knowledge in his work. Even more in the marine environment where he can speak to fishermen.and in a certain way, this knowledge ends up transferred to the environmental agency. Thus, indirectly, we are looking at the academia and using work that was produced through traditional knowledge.’’ 3.7. LEK use, community participation and empowerment To Berkes [18] ‘‘knowledge is power, and the use of local and traditional ecological knowledge is a mechanism for comanagement and empowerment’’. However, the ways which LEK is used have important implications in terms of community empowerment, as demonstrated in the present work. To illustrate this debate on the light of MPA management, some of the research history-lines presented above were assigned in relation to the types of participation according to the framework devised by Cambell and Salagrama [58] (Table 3). These assignments are merely illustrative and should not be seen as severe evaluations of the case studies discussed herein.

Using this framework, the study of Ibiraquera Lagoon, Santa Catarina State (within the Baleia Franca EPA) by Seixas and Berkes [51] might be viewed as a Type C or D study of local customary norms. As seen before, their work is playing a key role in the designation process of a community-based MPA demanded by the community. Empowerment seems therefore to be an important outcome of this collaboration. The Carijo´s ES study case resembles Type D research, where the researchers have drawn some of the research hypothesis from community needs. Although the research was done jointly with the community using participatory methods such as resource mapping, the approaches were defined by scientists. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Type D research approach has a large scope for LEK empowerment, as it is partially designed to fulfill a community management requirement. The study of Gerhardinger et al. [49] can be regarded as Type C research of fishermen’s LEK. Fishermen were not directly involved in the provision of knowledge into decision-making. They seldomly participated in the discussions regarding the designation process of the MPA (LCG, pers. obs.). The point here is that although LEK is officially being used to support decision-making, fishermen’s input occurs solely through a scientist’s publication in a scientific article. This issue was recently outlined by the research team and a series of communication and research approaches are shifting towards more inclusive and empowering methodologies. Pathways u, v, y and z might also reflect some sort of LEK participation in research. However, as pointed out by some of the interviewees, scientists are not bringing knowledge and information back to local communities. As such, though several years of research have been done locally, the community is not sufficiently aware of their outcomes. These research processes or knowledge transfer pathways might be placed somewhere between Type B and Type C research. By not returning or communicating research outcomes or knowledge back to the community, very little, if no empowerment is likely to occur along the way. Overall differences can also be perceived when comparing topdown with bottom-up approaches in terms of LEK empowerment in MPA management. The decision-making process in MPA management happens at various levels. Top-down MPAs usually have more centralized procedures of analysing and consolidating

Table 3 A single dimension framework for analysis of the balance of participation in fisheries research adapted from Cambell and Salagrama [58]. Type of participation in the research process

Characteristics of each type of participation

An example of resource investigation where these types might occur in fisheries

Type: A Professional exclusive

Only involvement of Professionals

Research carried out in a laboratory, using remote sensing or on a research vessel Professionals sample fish using a fisher’s canoe hired for gear trials and contracting him to provide labor Professionals interview fishers to access their indigenous knowledge concerning the ecology and behaviour of local stocks Professional researchers work with fishers to draw up and jointly execute a sampling program for fish in location and using methods defined by the professionals Fishers and professional researchers share a common need to identify new resources, they work together to develop a methodology(*) implement the research together sharing their knowledge and skills, analyse the data jointly and share in its. Ultimate dissemination and use Fishers request assistance from a research institute to address a particular need they have. They work with the Professionals to draw up and execute a sampling program using methods defined by the fishers Fishers consult professional researchers on their knowledge of the ecology and behavior of the species concerned which has been generated elsewhere Fishers request support from a formal research agency to address a specific resource-related issue Fishers generate indigenous Ecological knowledge of the resources through their own methods of observation and validation

Type: B Professional-led Contract Professionals ‘buy-in’ the skills and equipment of the fishers Type: C Professional-led Consultative Type: D Professional-led Collaborative

Professionals utilize the Indigenous knowledge of the fishers for their own purposes Professional allowing the involvement of fishers in the research activities of the professional under prescribed conditions

Type: E Collegial

Professional and community researchers work equally together to generate knowledge on a constraint of mutual importance

Type: F Community led Collaborative

Fishers Allowing the involvement of outsiders in the research activities of the community under prescribed conditions

Type: G Community-led Consultative

Fishers utilize the knowledge base of the professional researchers for their own purposes

Type: H Community-led Contract Fishers ‘buy-in’ research support from outside to address their needs Type: I Community exclusive Only involvement of community-based research participants

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a knowledge base for management. The knowledge base in this case is usually gathered by individual MPA managers or relevant authorities and decisions tend to be discussed amongst those having homogeneous thinking on a given issue under deliberation. Centralized decision-making favour scientific knowledge because of its written and organised form. It is obviously easier to reach an agreement over an alternative management option within closed meetings with people that think the same way, using information that is readily available and consistent with the scientific expectations of those involved. If ethno-scientists’ research is solely (or majorly) driven for academic purposes (e.g. interest only in the advancement of science, publications), as recurrently is the case, their role in MPA management becomes one of LEK harvester, thus minimizing any community empowerment so often considered as outcomes of ethno-ecological studies. This issue is discussed in an article directed towards conservation biologists written by Shackeroff and Campbell [9], which makes a strong case for the academic discourse to include better descriptions of how their research has dealt with participation and power allocation, especially in social scientific endeavours dealing with indigenous or cross-cultural contexts. Bottom-up MPAs, alternatively, offer a much broader scope for knowledge collaboration in decision-making. This is arguably because a common understanding/knowledge has to be built and shared in specific ‘stances’ of decision-making rather than analysed and deliberated by higher level individuals or institutions. The importance of promoting platforms for knowledge sharing and formation was stressed by an MPA officer: ‘‘In my understanding, the dialogue [in management council meetings] is not one of solely presenting the data to fishermen and saying ‘look, we reached these conclusions here!’. We need to build it [knowledge] together, this is my opinion. Fishermen also have their knowledge’’. Neves-Graça [59] found on her LEK study in the Azores that, rather than constituting two clearly distinct types of knowledge, through comparison and dialogical articulation local and scientific knowledge are typically locked in a process of mutual knowledge formation. In this regard, management councils can act as collective learning and knowledge formation platforms, catalysing related processes. Therefore, they constitute a very promising tool for collaboration amongst LEK and western scientific knowledge, especially in situations where council representatives and council coordinators are conscious of this potential. This is apparently the case of the Baleia Franca and Canane´ia-Iguape-Peruı´be EPA management council approaches, as discussed previously. By driving management council debates and discourses towards ‘knowledge formation’ instead of ‘knowledge presentation’, stakeholders might be shifting the management council from a ‘decision-making’ arena towards a ‘problem-solving arena’. This accords with the point made by Carlsson and Berkes [48] that ‘decisionmaking’ implies choices between different alternatives while problem-solving has to do with the process of generating these alternatives. Brown [60] suggests that in order to move towards a real ‘people-centred’ conservation and to develop locally appropriate (in terms of culture and resources) and adaptive systems of managing diverse biological resources, a form of ‘fusion knowledge’ should be aimed at, one that is neither strictly local nor scientific. She argues that ‘‘it is often at the interface between different ways of knowing and different forms of knowledge that innovations in resource management and practice can be made’’. Complementing this thought, the findings of the present research suggest that comanagement schemes would also benefit from a shift towards a focus on the ‘process of building knowledge’, rather only seeing


knowledge as some kind of clearly defined product to be drawn upon when developing decisions. Having discussed the benefits of using LEK in MPA comanagement schemes, an important issue remains. It is broadly accepted that biodiversity conservation initiatives have shifted paradigms, away from exclusive (top-down) protected areas towards community-based (bottom-up) approaches [60]. There is however an increasing concern that part of the bottom-up agenda is an attempt to re-label or re-package conservation [34,60,61]. Under this so called ‘new conservation’ approach, the knowledge base used in decision-making still remains largely expert-driven [60]. Social research projects adopting approaches that do not account for a broad definition of community participation and empowerment can eventually do more harm than good to local communities [9]. Fortunately this was apparently not the situation in the case studies discussed in this paper. 4. Conclusions The present research has comprehensively illustrated the role that LEK, especially that from artisanal fishers, plays in the management of MPAs, ranging from bottom-up or communitybased, to top-down approaches. It has shown that a plethora of knowledge categories held by fishermen are extremely useful under different management conditions and situations. However, most of the MPA management currently in place in Brazil is sciencedriven (Table 2). This outlines a high dependence on research centres that are obviously not able to provide all the information needed for decision-making. Over reliance on scientific knowledge thus limits MPA management because good management ideas are often put aside due to the lack of scientific basis. The results suggest that in order to fully engage this alternative knowledge system (as opposed to the western/scientific management approach currently in place), local people need to be partners at all stages of research and management. Scientists, management councils, MPA practitioners, as well as fishers themselves have a great deal of responsibility in integrating all the knowledge systems and thus have to follow ethical principles in related processes. The process of using knowledge to orient management decisions or building knowledge to facilitate problem-solving has to be truly participatory and all knowledge should have some sort of ‘filtering mechanisms’ to keep away from vested interests that are present in all stakeholders narratives. Delivering marine conservation policies is a social phenomenon where the behaviour of resource users must be induced to change [62]. Therefore, as put by Kareiva [63], ‘‘far more important than modelling the ideal design of MPAs or networks of MPAs is building local social and community support for them’’. Given the current alarming state of the Brazilian NSMPAs, it will certainly be an enormous challenge to put LEK to work in the benefit of MPA management in the country. In this regard, the present research has outlined a series of favourable contexts for LEK input in MPA management that will hopefully guide the process: i) presence of managers known to the community; ii) individual approach adopted by a given officer; iii) bottom-up and mixed approach categories; iv) working and representative council in place; v) identifying the issue of LEK in MPA management as a priority; vi) presence of active LEK research groups; vii) strong trust relations amongst authorities and people; viii) LEK being readily available or systematised. Amidst so many priorities, it is likely that only through the continuous work of universities, NGOs and local fishers in collaboration with key government authorities, that a broader ground will be opened for LEK within the governance systems of MPAs in Brazil.


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Gerhardinger et al (2009) LEK MPAs Brazil  

This paper discusses the roles of fishers’ Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) within the management of Marine Protected Areas(MPAs)inBrazil.The...

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