Economics & Social Sciences Research Program
Alaska Native Traditional Environmental Knowledge Project
"Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) in Federal Natural
Resource Management Agencies" is the theme of a
special issue of the journal Practicing Anthropology (v. 27, no.
1) edited by Dr. Jennifer Sepez and UW graduate student Heather Lazrus.
The issue features two articles from NOAA contributors, as well as
articles by (or about) other federal agencies, including the Bureau of
Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Park
Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In the special issue, an article by Jennifer Isť and
Susan Abbott-Jamieson of NMFS describes the Local Fisheries Knowledge
Pilot Project, which takes place in two lobstering communities in Maine.
The project involves high school students in collecting cultural,
environmental, and historical knowledge from local fishing families.
Interviews and information gathered by participants are posted on the project website,
The project has applied for funding to expand to communities in Alaska and North Carolina next year.
In another article in this issue, applications of the
Alaska Native Traditional Environmental Knowledge Database were
critically examined by Lazrus and Sepez based on interviews with
intended users at the AFSC and elsewhere. Comprised of information from
pre-existing sources in the literature, the database was a partial
response to public comments about the lack of TEK in the Draft
Groundfish Programmatic Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (PSEIS).
Lazrus and Sepez review ways in which authors of the revised PSEIS found
the database helpful and the challenges they faced using the information.
Lazrus and Sepez discuss several issues surrounding
how TEK is compiled and cited in agency documents. Because it is passed
from one generation to another, TEK can lend a great deal of
place-specific temporal depth to scientific investigations that may only
have data for a short period of time. Such temporal depth lends
historical perspective to environmental phenomena and can facilitate the
construction of baselines or indicate rates of change. It can also point
to issues that may not have been considered by the agency. However, TEK
offers very localized information that does not always correspond to the
geographic scope of regional agency interests.
Additionally, the Alaska
Native Traditional Environmental Knowledge Database does not offer users
an easy way to assess the authority of the information source, so it may
be difficult to judge the validity of a claim. The article discusses the
ways in which TEK and scientific investigation have different paradigms
that entail different ways of observing and drawing conclusions about
how the world works. This disparity may at times complicate applying
information from both paradigms to a single issue. On the other hand,
this may also lead to a more multidimensional examination of an issue
and a more robust analysis. Of course, ethical issues arise when expert
information is taken from a community without addressing issues of
compensation and comanagement of resources.
Lazrus and Sepez also
discuss the problem of treating TEK as a series of facts or observations
that can be extracted from cultural context. Without the context in
which they are developed and understood, fragments of information may be
misinterpreted or misapplied. Despite the challenges, NOAA scientists
were generally very interested in understanding and incorporating TEK in
agency efforts to analyze and manage North Pacific marine resources.
Other articles in the issue discuss understanding
Huna Tlingit traditional harvest management techniques for gull eggs in
Glacier Bay National Park, incorporating Swinomish cultural values into
wetland valuations, integrating TEK into subsistence fisheries
management in Alaska, considering traditional tribal lifeways in EPA
decision making, conserving wild medicinal plants that have commercial
value, and including TEK in planning processes for the National Petroleum Reserve.
The collection of articles conclude with a cautionary
commentary from Preston Hardison of the Indigenous Biodiversity
Information Network about international protocols,
government-to-government relationships, rules of disclosure for tribal
proprietary information, and the spiritual contexts of knowledge
production and knowledge sharing. The issue is a great source of
information on TEK program possibilities and lessons learned for federal
resource scientists and managers interested in incorporating traditional
environmental knowledge into their work.
By Jennifer Sepez and Heather Lazrus
Stock Assessment and Fisheries Evaluation Report and Data Support for Stakeholders
Terry Hiaat has begun producing the tables for the
2005 Economic Status Report in the Stock Assessment and Fisheries
Evaluation Report (SAFE), which involves acquiring the necessary data
sets from the Alaska Region and from AKFIN and updating the computer
programs that generate the tables. As of this date, all of the tables
that do not rely on Commercial Operators Annual Report data (which
typically are available toward the end of summer) have been completed.
Reports on discards, prohibited-species bycatch, and fleet composition
in the groundfish fisheries of Alaska have also been prepared for the
Ecosystems Considerations chapter of the SAFE.
By Terry Hiatt
Daniel Willard and Harrison Fell, both Ph.D. students
in the Department of Economics at the University of Washington, will be
working in ESSRP as student interns this summer. Daniel will be
assisting Dan Lew on several ongoing data collection projects. Harrison
will be working on his dissertation, which focuses on applied market
analysis for the pollock fishery. Harrison was awarded the NMFS/Sea
Grant Fellowship in Marine Resource Economics, a fellowship formerly
held by both Ron Felthoven and Alan Haynie (who subsequently became
By Ron Felthoven
Economic Data Collection Program Begins in Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Fisheries
In May, hundreds of economic data reports (EDRs) were
mailed out to current and former BSAI crab fishery harvesters and
processors. The purpose of the economic data collection is to aid the
NPFMC and NMFS in assessing the success of the BSAI crab rationalization
program and to develop amendments necessary to mitigate any unintended
consequences. The EDRs, containing questions regarding cost, revenue,
ownership, and employment, are initially being used to collect historic,
baseline information from the years 1998, 2001, and 2004. However, the
EDRs will also be collected annually from this year forward for all
harvesting and processing sectors. The data will be used to study the
economic impacts of the rationalization program on harvesters,
processors and communities. Participation in the data collection program
is mandatory for all participants in the crab fisheries.
By Ron Felthoven
AFSC Quarterly Research Reports April-June 2005