Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Learning by fishers in Grenada

(Posted in cbcrmlearn@yahoogroups.com on 9 September 2004)

My name is Sandra Grant (new member), PhD candidate at the Centre for Community-Based Resource Management, Natural Resources Institute University of Manitoba. I am from Jamaica, but did fisheries work in the small island of Grenada (which was devastated yesterday by hurricane Ivan....we call it IVAN the terrible, and now it is heading towards Jamaica).

I have read some of your stuff on "learning community" and i was also at the workshop and heard peoples ideas and thoughts of what is a learning community. Reflecting on my work in Grenada, which focused on the management of large pelagic species caught using the longline gear, i documented tremendous learning by fishers, i can't say much for the wider community (maybe i wasn't looking). The story (brief).... In 1979 the revolutionary government in Grenada invited the Cuban fishers to come to the island and teach local fishers how to construct and fish surface longline. The Cubans used 250 lbs strain twisted monofilament plastic, deployed from a box. After the revolution, fishers were introduced to single plastic type gears operated from hydraulic reels by American fishers. Since then fishers have changed the construction of lines and boat styles to accommodate this new technology... I have come to the conclusion that fishers learned from observation of other longline fishing fleets (USA, Venezuela, Japan), and experimented with locally available technology. More importantly they learned from each other....e.g., one person came up with an improvement, if it worked, others followed. Take for example, one fisher decided to use gillnet to catch flying fish for bait, instead of using a dip net; it worked so everybody started using this technique. These fishers are the most innovated people i know. I was in the community for 13 month (+/-) and the fishery i saw at the beginning is not the same at the end.

Thus, fishers are constantly experimenting, trial and error learning to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the gear. Unfortunately the Fisheries Division (FD) is not a part of the process. Technologically fishers are ahead of the FD by far. In the words of one fisher, "we don't need the FD anymore". Small minute changes in gear construction affects catch and effort analysis.... I should stop here, as i continue to think about the process....

Again, thanks for the invitation to join this group. And please say a short prayer for people who have been affected by the last 3 hurricanes (Charlie, Frances, and Ivan).

Sandra Grant

University of Manitoba

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