Blending Science Knowledge with Ancient Traditions
National Science Foundation, 7 July 2011

VIRGINIA, USA: On Yap, a Pacific island that is part of Micronesia, the native people fish the traditional way. They construct kites made of bread fruit leaves, the spines of the Pandanus plant and coconut fiber rope, and fly them over the reef, dropping their lines to attract long-nose needlefish. These are the only fish the islanders want, and the only ones lured by this unusual gear. “It’s ecologically sound and sustainable, and they have been doing it for generations,” says Robert H. Richmond, a research professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “More importantly, no Western scientist could teach them a better way.” Richmond directs the Partnership for Advanced Marine and Environmental Science Training for Pacific Islanders, a program for local students that is aiming to blend up-to-date scientific knowledge with the ancient traditions that have served the islanders well over thousands of years. The program seeks to produce culturally-connected Pacific Islanders who will be specifically trained to serve their home islands in natural resource assessment, protection and restoration, and who can provide information to the broader international community on the special problems experienced in island nations relative to topics such as resource sustainability, protection of biodiversity, pollution control and the connection between environmental and human health. Read the article …