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The Winter Seiners of Puruvesi

IMG_0927On an icy lake in Finland, a 500-year-old fishing practice continues, unbroken.

From filmmaker Tom Miller (PrettyGoodProductions) and executive producer Tero Mustonen (Snowchange Cooperative), The Winter Seiners of Puruvesi portrays one day on the ice with two teams of Finnish fishermen, practicing an unique form of under-ice net fishing. Includes rarely seen footage from the 1930s and 1960s.

The film is available here.

English / Suomi 35 mins.

esa1Made possible by generous support from the European Union Marine and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), Finnish Action Program 2014-2020. The film is dedicated to the memory of Esa Rahunen, long-term leader of the Puruvesi seiners who passed away in 2016.

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Declaration on Indigenous Knowledge from ICASS IX

Reindeer roundup in the Lower Kolyma, Yakutia, 2005.

Reindeer roundup in the Lower Kolyma, Yakutia, 2005.

On June 9, 2017, ICASS IX hosted an Indigenous Knowledge roundtable discussion organized by the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat. The panelists of the roundtable have developed the following statement:

Indigenous Knowledge provides a foundation for individual and collective well-being of past, present, and future generations of Arctic Indigenous Peoples. This knowledge system holds inherent value and methodologies, functions and validation processes.  Indigenous Knowledge empowers communities throughout the circumpolar north to significantly advance our understanding, intellectual performance and management of the Arctic.

We are thankful that IASSA has invited and showcased issues and topics that are inclusive and community driven.  IASSA has demonstrated their willingness to expand the ways in which Indigenous scholars and Indigenous Knowledge holders are engaged. By providing a platform that brings together a holistic and meaningful conversation, this progress will continue within IASSA and beyond.

Moving forward we suggest the following actions that can be supported by IASSA, individual IASSA members and the broader research community:

  1. Revise IASSA research principles to explicitly include Indigenous Knowledge.
  2. Clearly declare and ensure permanent support for Indigenous Knowledge within IASSA as defined by Indigenous Peoples, e.g. the development and supporting an Indigenous Knowledge Working Group or task force.
  3. Produce a white paper synthesizing existing national and international ethical protocols for the engagement of Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous communities.
  4. Work with Indigenous Knowledge holders to develop best practices for the engagement and utilization of Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Knowledge holders within Arctic research.
  5. Sponsor and facilitate Indigenous Knowledge workshop(s), early career training opportunities or other engagement formats within IASSA.
  6. Advocate for Indigenous Knowledge engagement by other Arctic research organizations, at the international and national levels (Arctic Council, IASC, national funding agencies, those that define research needs and other appropriate organizations).
  7. Investigate methods that position Indigenous communal oral histories as being of equal value to peer-reviewed science in Arctic studies.

In addition, we call on individual researchers to ask themselves: What Can I Do?

Indigenous Knowledge round table panelists:

  • Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council
  • Åsa Larsson Blind, Saami Council
  • Liza Mack, Aleut International Association
  • Dr. Svein Disch Mathiesen, UArctic Institute for Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry at International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, Saami University of Applied Science and UIT Arctic University of Norway
  • Dr. Tero Mustonen, Snowchange Cooperative
  • Dr. Andrey Petrov, University of Iowa, Yukon College, IASSA

Moderator: Dr. Noor Johnson, Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge in the Arctic

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Addressing the global redistribution of species in response to climate change will require innovative and interdisciplinary research

siperia37A major new scientific paper out in Biological Reviews features Snowchange initiatives and perspectives. Climate change will have diverse impacts on ecosystems across the globe. One of the clearest impacts of climate change on biodiversity has been and will be the change of species distributions or ‘species redistribution’. The consequences of species redistribution will be extensive, impacting not only biodiversity itself but also societies world-wide that depend on healthy ecosystems.

The paper explicitly recognizes Indigenous governance of biological resources:

23-sturgeonThe distributions and relative abundances of species within their historic ranges have been central to the knowledge of Indigenous peoples, including not only sedentary communities, but also mobile communities such as nomads, pastoralists, shifting agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers. Maintaining relatively intact ecosystems is crucial to the preservation of livelihoods, cosmologies, cultures and languages of these groups, and many have developed governance systems for their biological resources based on holistic observations and checks-and-balances to prevent overharvesting. Alterations in species ranges and relative abundances due to climate change will have profound consequences for these governance systems…For many Indigenous and local communities, monitoring is central to the preservation of their sea- and land-use patterns and sustainable development.

16-sunsetTero Mustonen from Snowchange, one of the co-authors of the paper, says: “We need to do new things, form new partnerships and step away from our established comfort zones to make sure all us, as humankind, has a chance for survival. This paper is an important addition to the conversation, especially in recognition of the Indigenous governance.

If fish species move significantly there could be major disruptions to global food security. Similarly, if important disease vectors (e.g. mosquitoes) change their distributions there could be major public health challenges arising from species redistribution. How best can science support the management of these major climate change impacts on biodiversity and societies?

Leading a large international team of climate change researchers, Dr. Timothy Bonebrake, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues devised a strategy for managing the consequences of species redistribution through close collaboration between ecologists, conservation biologists and social scientists. Open questions remain about how species will continue to shift distributions in a warming climate. The research team argues, in a recently published paper in Biological Reviews, that with targeted interdisciplinary engagement and by working with managers, local communities and the public there are significant opportunities to address research challenges in species redistribution and mitigate its effects.

6-jakut2As an example, the research team highlighted the uncertain future of caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) and the consequences of its redistribution under climate change. Caterpillar fungus is an important commodity in the economy of rural Tibet and is popular in Hong Kong and China for its use in traditional Chinese medicine. However, scientists have forecasted that under climate change the species may decline. This would most significantly impact the local communities that depend on the fungus for income. Importantly, harvesters of the caterpillar fungus have already experienced local changes in climate in the montane Tibet plateau. These experiences in climate change are crucial and have in fact informed scientific understanding of warming impacts in the region. In this way it is clear that the science and local communities can support one another – it is not only science that supports communities but communities who support science.

Applied, real-time and interdisciplinary research will be vital for effective management of species redistribution effects on biodiversity and societies. “Traditional research paradigms are ill-suited to respond adequately to the global and far-reaching effects of species redistribution” explained Dr Bonebrake. “Ecologists, for example, need to go beyond studying how global warming will change a given species. We ecologists need to determine whether there are immediate conservation actions that can be taken to ensure that that species persists in the future. We also need to assess whether a given species redistribution will affect associated ‘ecosystem services’, or how that species might be relevant to people, whether it’s through disease, health or recreation.”

The research team provided a number of positive developments which could enhance management efforts. For example, dynamic ocean management systems have been developed in some countries to accommodate seasonal changes in fish distributions and provide for regular updates of management zones. Similar approaches are being developed to adapt to long-term and climate-driven species redistributions. Citizen science has also become very popular in recent years. The involvement of local communities in data collection of species changes allows for a formalized relationship between scientists and the public which serves to enhance the increasingly crucial link between communities and scientists.

12-nets-loadThough the challenges are significant and the consequences of climate change and species redistribution potentially dire, there is cause for optimism. “This study came out of a meeting with hundreds of researchers in Tasmania, Species on the Move, and was inspired by the abundance of passion and enthusiasm to address this issue” said Dr Bonebrake. “We realized that by working together across disciplinary lines and by interfacing directly with the communities most affected by climate change, we have the best chance of successfully adapting to the impacts. As an American citizen I was disappointed that President Donald Trump chose to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But many cities across the US have decided that they will commit to the agreement all the same. And I think this is the right approach; addressing climate change impacts will require local engagement and I believe scientists have an important role to play in this effort.”

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News Deeply Interview

siperia11A new interview with News Deeply about climate change, conservation and species on the move, here.

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Early Summer Newsletter

May in Sámi taiga, 2017.

May in Sámi taiga, 2017.

May in Finland has been the coldest in 100 years. Both in the boreal areas and in the Sámi North snow conditions and lake ice have persisted for longer than expected. Between now and mid-June several international initiatives will be under way.

Snow conditions are severe in many Sámi areas still.

Snow conditions are severe in many Sámi areas still.

From 18th to 21st May we ll participate in several events at the “Slow Fish” global event in Genoa, Italy with the Low Impact Fishermen of Europe. We ll have the European premiere of a new Snowchange documentary film: Puruvesi Winter Seiners. You can see the trailer here.

This 35 minute English –language documentary shows an unique way of life from the boreal lakes of Finland. Shot over 2014-2017, the film captures the lives and landscapes of Puruvesi winter seiners, a traditional Finnish fishing community that has harvested vendace, or European Cisco, since 1300s. Their fishery is fully dependant on stable ice conditions. Now climate change, globalisation and other drivers of change are affecting the community. Fishermen are responding using a range of tools, including registeing their fish and way of fishing as a

General and Media

Puruvesi seiners

Geographical Indicator, defending the lake against trawling, maintaining traditional knowledge and practices and working together with researchers to address pollution on the lake. Northern and Arctic freshwater fisheries are little-known globally, and this film sheds light on this exceptional community of fishermen of the boreal North. An universal and attractive theme of the film is the actions taken by the community of fishermen themselves for the better, a shining light of positive change all fisheries globally need.

In early June we ll head to Stockholm for the “Good Anthropocene” event and meet with the IPBES Nordic teams as well as present a paper in the International Conference of the Arctic Social Scientists in Umeå.

River Kirakkajoki is the site of the 2017 restoration efforts.

River Kirakkajoki is the site of the 2017 restoration efforts.

Restoration of the Vainosjoki sub-catchment area will commence in mid-June in the Skolt Sámi area. Metsähallitus, Snowchange, regional authorities and the Skolt Sámi have agreed on the project permits, framework and schedules. We hope to complete the actual habitat restoration for trout and grayling around early September.

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