Coastal First Nations are bringing together ancient wisdom with the very best in modern science to plan for a healthy ocean future.

Traditional Knowledge – handed down from our elders and traditional resource harvesters – plays a crucial role in our ecosystem-based marine planning.

​​​​​Formally recognized in Canada’s Oceans Act and National Marine Conservation Areas Act,  Traditional Knowledge has guided marine planning processes in our communities and at the provincial and federal level.

Ecosystem-based Planning

Marine stewards for thousands of years, First Nations have a unique relationship with our ocean environment. We have a deep understanding of marine areas in our Territories and the interrelationships between marine species and their ecosystems.

Traditional Knowledge and modern science contribute equally to our understanding of the marine environment. Ethics and values are the roots of traditional land and sea management systems. Although expressed in unique ways, First Nations ethics and values relate to scientific principles of EBM, and provide linkages between the two perspectives.  Traditional values of balance and interconnectedness, for example, relate directly to EBM principles of long-term sustainable use and integrated management.

The principles of modern ecosystem-based management approaches reflect the Traditional Knowledge approaches in their aim to:

  • Maintain and restore healthy, diverse and naturally resilent ecosystems
  • Sustain human use of ecosystems over generations
  • Ensure people have a fair share of the benefits from the ecosystems in which they live
Keenawii's Kitchen - Food From The Sea

Ecological and Cultural Information

Traditional Knowledge provides vital information from elders and traditional marine harvesters to inform marine planning decisions. This can include:

  • Important places for fishing and gathering diverse species
  • ‘Seasonal rounds’ for when and where different species are harvested
  • Traditional ways of managing marine resources and areas
  • Traditional fishing, gathering and food preparation methods
  • Important cultural and archaeological sites
  • Travel and trade routes of our people
  • Observed changes or trends in species abundance and distribution over time

Traditional Knowledge

“… encompasses the beliefs, knowledge, practices, innovations, arts, spirituality, and other forms of cultural experience and expression that belong to indigenous communities worldwide… (I)ndigenous traditional knowledge systems [often] contain a rich understanding of plant, crop and tree species, medicines, animal breeds, and local ecological and biological resources. They may also include useful technologies and adaptations to local environments”

Parliament of Canada, 2004