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Traditional Knowledge from Fish Common Names in FishBase

Maria Lourdes ‘Deng’ Palomares, Senior Scientist and Manager, Sea Around Us

Mar 1 2021 | 11:00am to 12:00pm PST Online

Headshot of Deng Palomares
Maria Lourdes 'Deng' Palomares

Dr. Palomares has done extensive work with fisheries management and assessment, focusing on the creation and maintenance of the data repository FishBase. With FishBase, she focuses on understanding the cultural importance and the traditional knowledge associated with common names and how they should be considered in data repositories such as FishBase. Anyone that is interested in fisheries management and in the use of traditional knowledge should definitely come to this seminar!
— Liliana Sierra Castillo, Bren PhD Student


Claiming that the common names of fish are one of their most important attributes is an understatement. In fact, common names are all that most people know about most fish; this is demonstrated by the overwhelming number of searches for fish information that goes through the common names search in the FishBase website. The cultural importance of and the traditional knowledge associated with common names was considered in FishBase since its inception in the late 1980s. In the past thirty years, FishBase has successfully compiled 323,499 common names for 28,995 species in 256 countries spanning 349 languages, probably the largest collection of its kind. This compilation led to investigations on correlations between indigenous common names and, viz: (1) fish biological traits, e.g., maximum lengths in the 1990s; and (2) fisheries and fishing techniques in the 2000s. This body of work will be discussed, along with some examples of technological knowledge and how they are used in FishBase, with particular attention to indigenous common names in the USA and Canada.
Download list of associated literature


Maria Lourdes ‘Deng’ Palomares is the Senior Scientist and Manager of the Sea Around Us Research Unit (Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) and is the lead of SeaLifeBase. She has a PhD from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse (France; 1989-1990). Deng worked with FishBase at the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (Manila, Philippines, 1990-2000) and joined the Sea Around Us team in 2001. She serves as Quantitative Aquatics (NGO hosting FishBase and SeaLifeBase) Science Director, as a Board of Trustees member and as FishBase Consortium Coordinator.

Watch a recording of the talk here

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