indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Yoshitaka Ota and Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor: Indigenous communities and food

Filed Under: Environment | Health | World
More on: andres cisnermos-montemayor, food, sovereignty, yoshitaka ota
     
   

Mothers and children handlining for fish in the evening in Kavieng, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Colette Wabnitz (Author provided)

For indigenous communities, fish mean much more than food
By Yoshitaka Ota, (University of British Columbia) and Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor, (University of British Columbia)
The Conversation
theconversation.com

Along the arid coastline of northwestern Mexico, indigenous Seri communities, who first resisted Spanish rule and then Mexican extermination efforts, eventually gained formal titles over a small part of their ancestral coastal and marine territories. The ocean has always sustained their livelihood, but now they must contend with outside competition over declining fish resources.

This is a familiar story for almost 30 million coastal indigenous peoples around the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific. But until recently no one had ever quantified how intensively they relied on seafood, or its importance for their existence as distinct peoples.

To fill this gap, we developed a global database of more than 1,900 indigenous communities, including 600 unique groups. Our study found that coastal indigenous peoples eat nearly four times more seafood per capita than the global average, and about 15 times more per capita than nonindigenous peoples in their countries.

Seafood is crucially important to these communities – but it provides them with more than vital protein and nutrients. It also plays a role in ceremonial traditions, creating important ties between families and individuals and embodying their symbolic ties to the environment.

The practice of catching fish affirms their worldviews and puts them into action in nature. These relationships and values cannot be reflected in a number, but quantifying the dietary importance of seafood for these communities can help us understand the importance of indigenous fisheries and relationships to the oceans on a global scale.

Who is an indigenous person?

One major challenge in our study was the fact that there isn’t, and arguably shouldn’t be, a universal definition of what makes a person indigenous. According to the most widely used working definition, which has been adopted by the United Nations, indigenous peoples have a unique ethnic identity and a historical record that predates the colonial societies that exist now on their ancestral territories.

The political economy surrounding the definition of “indigenous” is complex, and no definition can fully convey the intricacy of their ethnicities, social organizations and colonial histories. Many populations are dispersed and displaced as states continue to undermine their rights and heritage.

In our study, we define “coastal indigenous peoples” in an inclusive manner but focus on those who are considered to be ethnic minorities, have historical ties to local marine geography and reside within 25 kilometers of the shoreline. We included both officially recognized and self-identified ethnic minority groups that are less than 1 percent of state populations, except populations in the Small Island Developing States. These communities all share links to marine environments, fish, marine mammals and other living organisms, mainly through fishing.


A global estimate of seafood consumption by coastal Indigenous peoples. Graphic by Yoshitaka Ota and Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor

Dozens of collaborators and experts, including people from the communities, reviewed our classification and data collection methods over four years to help us ensure that we worked with consistent frameworks. We are now making the database available to the communities and scholars to pursue this transparent process.

Seafood consumption and food sovereignty

Once we had developed our database, we estimated how much seafood people in these communities consumed, using sources such as public health and fisheries catch data. Where seafood consumption data for a community were not available, we estimated it by using averages for people from nearby indigenous communities, often belonging to the same group.

We estimate that 27 million coastal indigenous peoples consume 2.1 million metric tonnes of seafood per year. Compared to the global average of 19 kilograms (41 pounds) of seafood per person, these individuals consume 74 kilograms (163 pounds). Although they are becoming increasingly integrated into global food systems, coastal indigenous communities with cultural ties to the ocean on average eat 15 times more seafood than nonindigenous people in the same country.

This number suggests how important seafood is for coastal indigenous people’s food security. But we also must consider their “food sovereignty,” which implies not only having enough food, but being able to choose what you eat.


Traditional fish trap in a hoa (narrow shallow pass across the atoll rim) in Reao atoll, Tuamotu archipelago, French Polynesia. Photo: Colette Wabnitz (author provided)

Coastal indigenous peoples and global threats

Indigenous peoples’ relationships with the sea and landscape play an important role in maintaining their identities as distinct cultures. But new and ongoing stresses, including climate change and economic globalization, are threatening indigenous people’s ties to oceans and marine resources around the world.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes “the right to the lands, territories and resources which [indigenous peoples] have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.” This should apply to fish and oceans as well.

However, although coastal indigenous peoples have lived in close relationship with their environments for thousands of years and have developed traditional ecological knowledge, they are vulnerable to large-scale environmental change. And global negotiations over managing ocean resources often overlook their unique needs.

For instance, the Bajau Laut, or “sea normads,” are an indigenous group dispersed across Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. They have been successful maritime traders for centuries and still live on houseboats, moving along coasts and fishing for their living. They are recognized as a minority ethnic group by Indonesia, but in Malaysia they are not recognized and thus are considered illegals without a nationality.

As a result, Bajau Laut in Malaysia suffer constant harassment by government officials and tend to be shunned by mainstream society, including other small-scale fishermen. They are nomadic but cannot cross political boundaries legally because they are stateless, although many still do so in boats without passports. This means they risk losing access to their traditional fishing grounds.

Because they do not exist in the Malaysian government’s eyes, they have never been involved in coral reef conservation efforts, and it is difficult even for NGOs to be able to do much for them. Their food, economic and individual security are seriously threatened.

Our goal in producing this global-scale overview of indigenous seafood consumption is to begin a conversation about the human dimension of global sustainability. We hope our estimates demonstrate that fisheries management is a human security issue as well as an environmental issue, and that we need to bring social equity into global governance of the oceans.

The Conversation

Yoshitaka Ota is the Director (Policy) at the Nippon Foundation-UBC Nereus Program and Senior Research Associate, University of British Columbia. Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor is the Program Manager and Research Associate at the Nippon Foundation-UBC Nereus Program, University of British Columbia. Both Ota and Cisneros-Montemayor receive funding from the Nippon Foundation.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Tribes in for long haul as oil continues to flow through Dakota Access
Mark Trahant: Don't plan on getting sick if you're from Indian Country
Tiffany Midge: I shall joke as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow
Director of Office of Indian Energy deletes offensive Twitter account
States cheer decision on grizzly bears amid tribal concerns about hunts
Washington asks high court to overturn Yakama Nation treaty victory
New York Times editorial board reconsiders stance on racist trademarks
Colville Tribes remove council member a week before citizens go to polls
Marijuana firm promises big investments with help of ex-Seminole chair
Lumbee Tribe ordered to release voter list to opponents of chairman
National Indian Gaming Association chooses David Bean as vice chair
Eastern Cherokee citizen promoted to vice president of casino marketing
Tribes in Connecticut waiting on governor to sign bill for new casino
Secretary Zinke removes protections for grizzlies over tribal objections
Court sets final deadline for remaining payments from Cobell settlement
Mary Annette Pember: Indian Child Welfare Act strengthens our families
Peter d'Errico: Navajo authors offer fresh perspective on sovereignty
Native woman was jailed and forced to ride with assailant during trial
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe challenges new permit for uranium operation
Montana tribes get new member of Congress who pleaded to assault
Connecticut tribes welcome court decision favoring new casino law
Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe remains confident of approval of casino
Nooksack Tribe accepting slot tickets while casino remains closed
Key House committee under fire for moving slowly on tribal agenda
Tribes go it alone on climate change as Trump team shifts priorities
Bryan Newland: President Trump's budget threatens tribal treaties
Steve Russell: The GI Bill changed the United States for the better
Harold Monteau: Democrats lack proactive agenda, proactive strategy
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe orders 20 non-citizens to leave reservation
Wilton Rancheria accused of working too closely with city on casino
Witness list for hearing on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Arne Vainio: What does the princess want to be when she grows up?
Doug George-Kanentiio: 'Spirit Game' brings Iroquois lacrosse to life
Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot
Eric Hannel: Addressing the health care crisis among Native Americans
Bill for tribal regalia at graduation ceremonies advances in California
Ramapough Lunaape Nation wins reversal of ruling on prayer camp
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still waits on casino ruling from Trump team
Another former leader of Winnebago Tribe pleads in gaming theft case
Supreme Court ruling poses hurdle for opponents of racist NFL mascot
Change the Mascot campaign responds to negative Supreme Court ruling
Secretary Zinke set for another hearing on Interior Department budget
Mark Trahant: Republicans write health reform bill behind closed doors
Jeff Grubbe: Agua Caliente Band focuses on protecting our groundwater
Steven Newcomb: Asserting our traditions in the era of Donald Trump
Shasta Dazen: 'Family Spirit' program incorporates our tribal traditions
Secretary Zinke shuffles top Indian Affairs officials at Interior Department
Choctaw Nation travels to Ireland to dedicate 'Kindred Spirits' sculpture
Nooksack Tribe closes doors to casino after being hit with federal order
Muscogee Nation asserts authority at allotment where casino was proposed
Mark Trahant: Dakota Access decision offers a chance to return to respect
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe hails 'victory' in Dakota Access Pipeline case
Nooksack Tribe told to close casino amid leadership and citizenship feud
Kristi Noem: Enough is enough - It's time to fix the Indian Health Service
Second hearing scheduled on bill to reform the Indian Health Service
Trump nominee for appeals court seen as favorable to tribal interests
>>> more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.