ROLE OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE IN MANAGEMENT OF MARINE RESOURCES; CASE ANALYSIS OF KURUWITU AND MKUNGUNI FISHING VILLAGES IN KENYA
JABALI JILANI, WALTER
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The use of indigenous knowledge in conservation of natural resources, and especially marine, has received increasing attention in recent years. This is partly attributed to its extensive contribution to the management of local resources and to the spiritual, cultural and economic well-being of local communities. However, modernization of the management regimes from indigenous knowledge- to scientific knowledge-based approaches is slowly phasing out the use of indigenous knowledge in resource-use and management. The overall aim of this study was to identify the existing types of indigenous knowledge practices, assess perceptions and attitudes of local communities towards marine resource management, to determine the influence of local institutions in preservation of indigenous knowledge used in management of marine resources and to evaluate the contribution of the indigenous knowledge to marine resource management. The study was conducted through a descriptive survey design using semi-structured questionnaire, Key Informant Interviews (KIIs), field observations and Focus Group Discussion (FGDs). Descriptive statistics in MS Excel® and Inferential statistics (Chi-square) in Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) were used to analyze the data. Results showed both similarities and differences in the types of indigenous knowledge in the two villages; Kuruwitu and Mkunguni villages. For example, fishers associated loud sound of waves splashing on the reef with the coming of rains and a rough sea, which often rhyme with the South-East Monsoon winds (SEM or Kusi) and minimal fishing activity was recorded in during such periods. Fishers in both villages relied on the lunar cycle to determine the sea-state and plan for fishing activities. The fishers demonstrated indigenous knowledge in identification of marine fish species and their habitats. This knowledge was valuable in determining with fair accuracy, how to locate the target fish species for both subsistence and commercial purposes. However, some differences were also noted between the two villages; e.g. 65 % of the respondents in Kuruwitu village were aware about the causes of ecosystem degradation and pollution, vi compared to only 25% in Mkunguni. The study recommends the documentation and promotion of the use of indigenous knowledge for marine resource management, thus ensuring that it is not lost out due to modernization. In addition, knowledge used in assessing marine weather and state of the sea can be enhanced to guide climate change mitigation and alleviate disasters in these villages and beyond. Additionally, environmental agencies in Mkunguni village which appeared less focused on conservation should create more awareness on ecosystem degradation and pollution. Further studies are needed to assess the magnitude of pollution and its effects on both quantity and quality of fish consumed and link these with indigenous knowledge, associated with some traditional beliefs and taboos in these coastal communities.