The integration of local harvesters' knowledge of attitudes and practices toward the resources they harvest with scientific information is essential to natural resources management. However, the development and implementation of management policies have, in most cases, not been effective because of a failure to use all available sources of information and knowledge. In fisheries management, local knowledge is usually not collected in a systematic format and little published literature has discussed the use of local knowledge data collection and analysis methods. This paper describes the implementation of geographic information systems to systematize, analyze, and display traditional and scientific information to support fisheries management in the Patos Lagoon Estuary, southern Brazil. Artisanal fishing data were documented through a series of interviews conducted during and after fishing trips at harvest spots, and scientific data on environmental variables were obtained from different research institutions. A multi-layer GIS database integrating local fishers' and scientific knowledge information was developed with ArcGIS 8.3 ArcView (R) tools to integrate and translate information into an accessible and interpretable format. The geo-spatial database interface allowed the selection of specific data characteristics by target species, harvest areas, fishers' communities, fishing gear, catch-per-Unit of effort (CPUE), and monthly landings. The observed fishing spatial dynamics presented among the fishers' communities shows that, in most cases, artisanal fishermen tend to concentrate in shallow estuarine waters Surrounding their villages. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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