FILL­ING ‘FUND­ING-SHAPED HOLES’

Animal Scene - - PET BULLETIN -

Arthur said he turned to the Marine Con­ser­va­tion Ac­tion Fund to fill “fund­ing-shaped holes” in his data. He had had a grant to track coral reefs off the west coast of In­dia be­gin­ning in 1998, but he missed four years when he could not af­ford to dive. Col­lect­ing more com­plete data sets - and the aquar­ium’s vote of con­fi­dence - may have helped Arthur win fund­ing from the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts, which is now sup­port­ing his ef­forts to re­build lo­cal knowl­edge about the reefs. He is doc­u­ment­ing the knowl­edge lo­cal fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties have about the reefs. One of the old­est lo­cal fish­er­men showed him how he trav­els through the ar­chi­pel­ago with­out a com­pass, nav­i­gat­ing from the re­flec­tion of the la­goon on the clouds. “If you just look at nav­i­ga­tional sys­tems, that in it­self is a trea­sure trove of in­for­ma­tion,” which is lost ev­ery time an old fish­er­man dies, Arthur said.

Even old recipes give a sense of what foods and re­sources were read­ily avail­able in the area, Arthur said, but these were be­ing lost with the ag­ing pop­u­la­tion. “When lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are shown the value of these things, they take a lot of lo­cal pride,” he said, cit­ing one fish­ing com­mu­nity that im­posed a ban on grouper dur­ing spawn­ing sea­son af­ter the re­searchers ed­u­cated them about the fish’s spawn­ing habits. “What lacks is the in­for­ma­tion.”

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