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Fishers' knowledge and seahorse conservation in Brazil

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-1-12

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Over a decade ago, Ruddle [1] pointed out the great potential value of local knowledge as an information base for local management of marine environments and resources, especially in the tropics, where conventionally-used data were usually scarse to non-existent. A number of subsequent studies have documented and recognized the value of local knowledge to conservation and management of fisheries [2-12].A pragmatic view of the relevance of fishers knowledge to fisheries management has been expressed by Ames [8]: "fishermen and their subjective, anecdotal descriptions have a pivotal role to play in the development and function of sustainable fisheries (.......) fishermen are, in fact, the only available source of local, historical, place-based information". Nevertheless, lack of sound management practices have led to the collapse of particular types of fisheries in some parts of the world, and, as pointed out by Meewig et al. [13], interest in participatory approaches in resource management in part reflects the failure of top-down, centralized approaches to manage natural resources.Definitions of artisanal, subsistence fisheries have traditionally focused on the capture and trade of food fish. However, a growing number of examples of fish species being traded worldwide for purposes other than alimentary (e.g., as pets, remedies, souvenirs) has revealed the existence of an international and multi-faceted commerce, supported by a diffuse (and generally poorly quantified) harvesting of a number of species.Those forms of exploitation have received little attention when compared with the trade of animals for alimentary purposes [14]. In the marine realm, the scarcity of data has rendered the identification of key elements for conservation and management, and the assessment of impacts difficult.Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are among the few non-food marine fishes whose trade has been documented, initially in Asia [15], where the demand for those fishes was primarily for use


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