Long-term Persistence of Sophistication, Knowledge, and Ocean Literacy
Ocean literacy is when holistic concepts such as sophistication, refinement, and knowledge are intricately linked. In the educational domain, the category of ocean literacy is very broad and thus has some unknown aspects as it contains formal and informal categories. Efforts to enhance awareness of the oceans and improve knowledge and understanding of the seas have been made at a global level. The understanding of ocean literacy varies depending on the situations and levels of each country and each society.
The sophistication and knowledge of the seas are the results of long-term persistence. Although new science and knowledge emerge every day, the seas are solemn, deep, and broad, and with the sophistication and knowledge system it is difficult to escape from the weight of the history of the seas. Therefore, it can be possible to offer the weight of the history of the seas under the name of oceanic heritage. Oceanic heritage can be defined as the generic term of the great heritage that the seas have given us.
Oceanic heritage is the output of long-term persistence and can be classified into natural heritage, tangible heritage, intangible heritage, and recorded heritage. Such a division is based on UNESCO’s world heritage category. This paper pays attention to the folk knowledge, or the intangible knowledge, rather than the tangible heritage. To people living by the sea in the developing world, it is common that there is no record, although there is still a history. Arsyeniyev’s record of the indigenous Udege people, a beautiful record on the Nanai people, made while he explored Ussuriysk in Eastern Siberia in the early 20th century, can explain the greatness of the ecological knowledge of the native people.
“I met some Udege people who came down along the Samargi river on November 10th. I asked them about the Northern coastal area of Cape Sosnov. One of them drew a map on the sand with a stick, and I noticed how detailed it was with just a glance. When I showed him a map that I carried with me, he quickly noticed the direction, and he told me the names of the rivers, mountains, and flowers marked on the map, as well as the distances. I was amazed at his knowledge. This was the first time he had seen a map in his life; nonetheless, he understood the scale of the map, and analogized a formula by calculating the ichnography. Suddenly, I thought everything was in vain. How hard had I studied to be able to read such a map? My map was detailed, and most people could not interpret it if they are not an expert. However, this savage who had never written a letter in his life, had an insight into the map that civilization had achieved with a lot of experience and sharp sightedness.”
Aspects of Oceanic Heritage, Folk Knowledge, and Ecological Knowledge
Folk knowledge is interpreted as traditional knowledge or traditional ecological knowledge, and this traditional knowledge is called traditional knowledge or traditional e1. The UN adopted a Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for the prevention of the decrease in species and the rational use of biological resources at the Rio Summit in June 1992. These are important channels to guarantee biological diversity, traditional knowledge, traditional technology, and that the importance of customs is emphasized. This means linguistic diversity in traditional knowledge, technology, and customs.
“Under the condition to comply with domestic legislation, the native people that have adopted a traditional lifestyle suitable for the preservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the knowledge, technology, and customs of modern society need to be respected, preserved, and maintained.
A broader application of these ideas is promoted by the approval and participation of those who possess such knowledge, technology, and customs, and the fair distribution of profits generated from the use of this knowledge, technology, and customs is encouraged (Article 8.J. of the Convention).
Such discussions are formally connected to the Convention on Cultural Diversity by UNESCO. UNEP makes use of traditional knowledge, innovations, customs, and conventional biological resources of native communities for the preservation and sustainability of biological diversity by 2020. This is respected according to the domestic laws and relevant international obligations, and allows the native communities to adequately and effectively participate in the execution of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Such a goal is to respect, protect, and encourage traditional knowledge and conventional sustainable use under the participation of native communities, and so to reflect the goal to the execution of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
- Processes to consolidate and encourage respect and recognition of future expectations, traditional knowledge, and conventional sustainable use are carried out internationally in many countries.
- Although efforts are made to fortify capabilities and to make native communities participate meaningfully in the processes at the local, national, and international levels, the resources, recognition, and roles are limited, which can be hindering factors.
- As we can see from the loss of linguistic diversity, traditional knowledge is continuously decreasing, and native communities are losing their living base on a large scale.
- In some regions, as communities’ interest in traditional culture, and participation in governance and management of the protected areas increase, and recognition of the importance of the protected areas rises, such a trend is reversed.
- More than 60% of national reports evaluated for the GBO-4 (Global Biodiversity Outlook 4) imply the advancement towards the goal (There are traditional natural resources management in Japan, Myanmar, and South Africa, and Nepal’s participatory management on the forests and protection areas).
- From the diverse data and materials of the GBO-4, a more effective and successful goal is promoted in the broader application of the following:
* Develop guidelines or behaviour plans in line with the guidance of the Convention on Biological Diversity to acknowledge that native communities’ rights and to protect them.
* Encourage local initiatives that support traditional local knowledge on biodiversity and also conventional sustainable use including traditional health care initiatives.
* Consolidate opportunities to learn and speak native languages, carry out research projects or collect data based on traditional methods, make native communities participate in the designation, control, governance, and management processes of the native communities.
* Enhance perception on the importance of traditional knowledge in biodiversity preservation and sustainable use.
* Support and organize programs to cement native communities’ capabilities on the relevant issues within the Convention on Biological Diversity and to enhance cultural recognition.
* Encourage effective participation of the native communities at all levels regarding the issues on biodiversity and issues of interest to the native communities.
Modern Science and “The Savage Mind (La Pensée Sauvage)”
Native people living by the sea have sufficiently recognized nature in their folk knowledge or their traditional understanding. Their vast knowledge system on the seas is more profound than any achievements that scientists have made. The following are handed down like mythology:
If one native on a coral island in the Pacific dies, it is as though a library in the more modern society has permanently disappeared.
Folk knowledge is like a living library. Folk knowledge has broader categories than expected, and it encompasses folk education, folk medicine, spells and folklore in divination, weather and natural power, the knowledge of mathematics, and the use of natural things2. The relationships between the seas, humans, and gods that pre-modern people believed to be more accurate than the scientific systems in which we have blind faith. The reason is that the modern people of today do not have the native people’s discerning eye for predicting climate change by following the change of sea water, the gliding direction of an albatross, and the colour of the sunset.
Although we think almost everything in the seas is known, humans do not yet have the ability to reach every corner of the seas. New species are being found, and the world of the seas is still mysterious when it comes to the world of microorganisms, not to mention the living creatures at the bottom of the sea floor. At sea, species thought to have been completely extinct have been rediscovered.
In the “The Savage Mind(La Pensée Sauvage)”, Le’vi-Strauss clarifies that so-called scientific thought is not superior to mythological thought or the Savage Mind from the point of view of the history of civilization. “The Savage Mind (La Pensée Sauvage)” of today has the meaning of revealing the ecological view of the world in a structural way. The UN has emphasized the importance of traditional knowledge, traditional technology, and customs as the key channels to guarantee biodiversity.3 This also means linguistic diversity in traditional knowledge, technology, and customs.
The diverse tribes of Siberia use natural things for medicine and they have special usages for them. The Siberian Saha tribe touches a woodpecker’s beak, when they have a toothache, and the Siberian Burayt tribe drinks pigeon meat soup to cure a cold. The Burayt tribe makes use of a variety of bears and bear parts such as, 7 different types of meat, 5 types of blood, 9 types of fat, 12 types of the brain part, 17 types of gall bladder, and two types of hair as different treatments of diseases/illnesses. Such an example can be found anywhere in the world.4
The Siberians living on the seas of the North Pole have dozens of classifications for different types of snow and ice. Their method of classifying snow and ice is different from the standard of modern scientific practices. While scientists put a lot of time and energy into researching the pollution in the North Pole, the people of the North Pole recognize the delicate changes in nature and the beginning of pollution in their daily life.
Farmers in the Andes have lived under the roughest topography and climate conditions for 8000 years. A farmer in the Andes grows over 100 types of potatoes. A survey in 1985 by a Peruvian seed bank identified 497 types of potatoes in the Andes. This unique method of growing plant species throughout the area or in the same field has been the lifestyle of the farmers in the Andes for over 8,000 years (Marcie Abramson Sclove, 1998:121-125). As such, the traditional scientific knowledge of the farmers of the Andes is vast.
Claude Le’vi-Strauss intentionally put the Cabinet of Antiquities (Le Cabinet des Antiques) of Balzac in the preface of “The Savage Mind (La Pensée Sauvage)”.
Looking at people’s work from many different viewpoints, there is no one such as savages, farmers, or country people. Looking at those people’s behaviour, the people carried out their work as expected in their world.
There were times that “The Savage Mind(La Pensée Sauvage)” was dominant in mankind. However, the culture of savages was driven out under the name of superstition or was degraded under the name of civilization in the expression of “modern.” We need to learn the “The Savage Mind(La Pensée Sauvage)” that was passed down to the isolated islands on the seas.
The lives of native people by the sea are not like those of the Western World, so they do not have uniform or contradictory lives. For example, the Maori’s view of the world is to integrate the past and the present and to integrate life and death in the natural circular rhythm. From the Polynesian concept, darkness has the nature of liquidity and it is also obscure. A woman of darkness Hona Uni te Po (meaning an ignorant woman) was a woman of light, and the woman’s vagina means the place of birth and also the site of death, and it represents a double identity. Such ambivalence encompasses natural and supernatural things, and it is the topic of many myths including the Goddess Hona.5
Case Study: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Oceanic Culture
- Looking at a case of ethnography investigating the fishermen living by the seaside in Catalonia, it is a good example of how a fisherman example of ethnography investigating the fishermen live.6
- Despite the importance of the past, the traditional knowledge of the climate and weather has not been passed down. It is not because of the extinction of traditional knowledge due to technological development, but because such traditional information went out of existence.
- Constant interest in climate change and the change in weather was a general response in the traditional fishermen’s society. As traditional fishing methods are disappearing and fishing grounds are being ravaged, traditional knowledge has lost its momentum and has stopped being passed down.
- Nonetheless, there are still some fishermen’s groups that possess traditional knowledge and survive from the onsite investigation.
- The information system and the system of passing down traditional knowledge present profound lessons and solutions to the climate change and water temperature change from which humans are currently suffering.
- Traditional knowledge does not lose its effectiveness in the marine management context.
- Native language diversity is disappearing and they are becoming unified into a uniform language. The standard language policy that does not consider language diversity has narrowed down the territory of the Korean language.
- The extinction of folk knowledge means that a crisis in the language ecological strategy has come. The process in which a native language ceases to exist, is reduced, or becomes uniform means the extinction of the natural recognition system and folk knowledge.
- The fish with the largest number of different names in different dialects, is the gray mullet. It has more than 100 different dialect names. This proves that the gray mullet is close to the lives of Korean people. However, more than 100 names for the gray mullet have ceased to exist, and only the terms gray mullet and one other meaning the fry of gray mullet or “Mochi” remain.
- The “World of allied species” used by pre-modern people has been told through the civilized people in the modern scientific era.7
- In the Western world, traditional ecological knowledge already has a place. The Western world’s ecological anthropology seeks a theoretical trend in which there is an analysis of the relation between the environment and humans through their interest in ecology seen through their cultural frame of reference.8 Ethnoecology and new ethnography in the Western world trend of anthropology are expected to be helpful to the construction of spontaneous ecological folklore.9
- The fishermen’s cognitive system is shown through the symbol of tide time. The original meaning of the tide time is the numeric classification of the tide strength, and the tide phenomenon is identified for half a month, and not for one
- The fishermen’s life using the intertidal zone is still based on the lunar calendar. Survival is impossible without the tide time. Any fishermen should accurately remember the tide time, and the language system indicating tide time can be a linguistic ecological strategy itself.
- Although the modern tide timetable is announced and cited, the tide time is specified on the calendar. Fishermen are solidly depending on the lunar calendar system that most people living on land gave up.
- The folk knowledge system corresponds to all the people living by the sea where the global intertidal zone is formed, and most modern fishermen in large European cities apply the folk knowledge of the tide time.
The Way to the Future: The Ecological Fishing Method
What can we teach about the relationship network of ocean literacy and oceanic heritage? Nowadays, traditional fishing methods have almost disappeared. Most traditional ways of life at sea for thousands of years have disappeared during the 20th century. At first, it was due to the steam engine and then it was the advent of mechanized ships using petroleum, and finally, it was the fishing method of catching fish by chasing them, not the fishing method of waiting off the coast, which became dominant. Consequently, the rich diversity of native coastal fishing techniques rapidly disappeared.
For example, fishing in canoes that was led by the most successful and experienced fishermen in the Western African coast line nearly collapsed due to cheap frozen fish. As new advanced fishing methods bringing more profits were hailed in Europe, the traditional fishing methods were given up just like that.
It is not easy to accurately estimate the traditional coastal fishing’s share of the global fishing industry. However, people need to pay attention to the following two aspects. The fishing villages of most countries in the developing world are half engaged in farming and half in fishing. That is part-time, seasonal fishing labour or overtime complemented by the lack of work in farming. However, as traditional coastal fishing disappears, such a complementary system has collapsed, and over a long period of time it has become a serious social issue on the coasts of the developing world.
Countries that have adopted a more powerful capitalism could not just wait for fish to come to their coastal waters. Fishermen had to go to the open sea to chase fish species that provided commercially higher profits, such as lobster or shrimp. So, fishermen started to use mechanized fishing methods suitable for the deep sea, as they wanted to dominate the fishing grounds. Meanwhile, such mechanization in fishing has brought about the depletion of fish stocks, which has contributed to the devastation of coastal waters. In this sense, Dolsal (a traditional method to catch fish by placing stones in a circular shape), a fishing technology legacy still remaining in Korea as well as in the world requires attention.
- In the southwestern coast and Jeju Island in Korea, a trap fishing method, Dolsal, which is a method of fishing by blocking the waters by placing stones in a circular shape, that is Wondam exists.10 The folk fishing method11 is the treasure of traditional ecology unlike fishing for the fishing industry.12
- The folk fishery is small scale traditional fishery, and it is the stronghold13 of the linguistic ecological strategy. There are a number of diverse cases including Okinawa and Paengho Archipelago,14 and many have been passed down on Jeju Island.
- It is general15 to install Dolsal under different conditions depending on the ebb level, such as the intertidal zone’s location on Jeju Island. The village community’s response to the Dolsal exists, and this can be a strategy to take over such a fishing method.
Dolsal is a nature-friendly fishing method and is representative of the folk fishing method. Dolsal itself actually keeps cultural diversity and global universalism.
In fishery management, fishermen’s empirical ecology information is a key method, and the lesson of Dolsal from even such a perspective is meaningful. The main interest in the re-construction of fishery management in developed countries is to use the fishermen’s empirical ecological information to make up for the lack of fishery management information. Such an attempt is an ecologically informative approach to the new fishery management using the importance of fishery management information that has been passed down from ancient times in traditional fishing has. As part of the solution to the chronic problems of free fishery, such as resource zone’s extinction according to overfishing and depletion, the shift to a new direction is attempted. Therefore, there is a need to combine natural information from fishermen’s ecological knowledge and the scientific information of fishery management and to reflect the combined knowledge to more realistic and rational fishery management decision making.
Traditional fishing that has been passed down from ancient times provides information required for humans to live in harmony with the nature. If we closely examine some aspects of a diversity of ecological knowledge that can be obtained from folk fishing, much empirical information that can be effectively used in fishery management exists.16 Globalization cannot be an alternative for the future and hope in fishery anymore. It is necessary to get back to alternative technology by destroying globalized fishing technologies.17
Folk fishing can be called folk management, and it is also extensively re-reviewed. The importance of folk management lies in the systems, practices, and knowledge. The folk management system is for coastal fishery encompassing fishing for survival and commercial fishery. There is no need to view commercial fishery and fishery for survival as separate entities as fishermen are engaged in commercial fishery and also catch fish for their own food. Where fish stock has been depleted, folk management and non-concentrated management would depend more on folk knowledge, traditional practices, and the local systems, and will be set as the new coordinate of fishery for the future.18 Despite there being a small number of people who believe this, some theorists present such an assertion.
The folk management and fishermen’s joint management fishing system are accepted as a hope for sustainability. However, when it comes to sustainability, the future of fishery becomes dark. A shift to such management is not carried out automatically, and it is not such an easy thing to do.19
I cannot but agree that such a shift is not a simple task. All sorts of ghost nets are floating around the seas. Many sea creatures die or are severely injured by being caught in such ghost nets. Any fishing lines left take more than 600 years to break down. Ghost nets disturb the passage of light into the seas, and some toxic and disease-causing materials massacre fish. Fish’s spawning grounds and growth places are lost due to trash on the sea floor. In this sense, a sort of stone net’s ecology-friendly lesson and future-oriented ocean literacy should be used.
Although humans cause destruction in the global biological system and environmental system every day, we also keenly depend on the integrity of the global system to keep existing. In this regard, humans should understand what effects the global system has on us, and how we affect the system. By understanding it, we can understand the very realistic threats given to humans by the sixth extinction. That is to say, humans should find a balanced solution between humans and the natural world.20
If there is a harmony pre-established by God, and God blesses humans, then God has given humans the most natural net, the Dolsal, and thus we cannot but dream of the golden net era when human technology co-existed with fish. Ocean literacy can partially contribute to looking for way to get back to the way it was in the lost golden net era. As Pope Francis said, the destruction of nature and ecology is a sin itself.