How endangered are endangered species for a fisherman in the north coast of Egypt? Understanding how fishermen perceive the status of marine species they see on a daily base is fundamental to identify more appropriate ways to talk about conservation. As part of this project, we conducted social surveys to identify what fishermen consider as 'endangered'.
About the project
Project leader: Anjelika Abdo Abou Issa
For a biologist or a conservationist, an endangered species is one that is facing a risk of disappearing if we don’t change the way we coexist with it. This notion is linked with international treaties and initiatives like the IUCN Red List that classify species according to their risk of becoming extinct in the wild and recognize three levels of threat: vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered (more info here). The words 'endangered species' are usually associated with images of pandas, turtles, whales, bears, wolves and other charismatic animals that quickly catch our attention and push us to protect them! However, the perception of what is endangered or at risk can be extremely variable according to the person we have in front of us.
As part of this project, we decided to work closely with fishermen in the North coast of Egypt to understand what 'endangered' means for them.
Inspired by Hemingway's novel, we named our project "The Old Man-a turtle- and The Sea". Fishermen spend most of their lives at sea, their knowledge about marine life is invaluable. They are the first to witness changes at sea and their impact on the marine environment and their own livelihoods. They are the real sentinels of the sea. In order to talk about more appropriate conservation practices with fishermen, it is important to understand what do they mean by "endangered"? What changes are they witnessing? And what do they think has an impact on their environment?
Phase 1 of our project took place during the summer of 2015, when a pilot survey was run in three fish markets in Alexandria and Port Said with the invaluable help of Mohamed Ismail, lecturer at the University of Port said, Magdy and Mohamed, both marine biology students.
Phase 2 of the project will include more surveys in other fish markets across the north coast of Egypt (click HERE to see how you can help!)
Phase 3 of the project will focus on producing communication material to talk conservation in a new way that takes into account fishermen's point of view!