Gustavo Blanco and José Barrena, researchers from the IDEAL Center and the Universidad Austral de Chile, presented at the IX International People and the Sea Conference 2017, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Two researchers from the Universidad Austral de Chile and the Research Center Dynamics for High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL), Dr. Gustavo Blanco and José Barrena, participated in the conference known as MARE. This meeting unites researchers from the social sciences who take an interdisciplinary approach to maritime and coastal studies, looking at implications for human communities, their livelihoods, and governance, as well as resource sustainability.

The general topic of the congress was how to investigate mobility in coastal maritime contexts. The concept of mobility encompassed three areas: the coastal population, resources, and marine infrastructure.

José Barrena reported an investigation carried out in Puerto Edén, Chile, on how the Kawésqar communities were immobilized.

Certain state projects (e.g., the construction of an air base in the first third of the 20th Century) led to the sedentarization of the formerly mobile, navigating Kawésqar culture. Barrena’s study offers an unprecedented historical view of the relationship between sedentarization and mobility, and how this is being transformed by modern conservation projects in the Magallanes Region.

José Barrena investigated the immobility of Kawésqar communities.

Dr. Gustavo Blanco, on the other hand, presented the trajectory of changes in the ways and means of life of the fishers of the Magallanes Region. His study was based on 44 interviews carried out with different actors tied to artisanal fishing in the study area and included the participation of three other researchers from the IDEAL Center: María Amalia Mellado, Laura Nahuelhual, and Gonzalo Saavedra.

“From the 1960s onwards, in Magallanes, a new artisanal fisher has emerged, shaped by migratory waves. We analyze these migrations, how these fishers follow different resources, different types of markets, how they use different technologies, and their different ways of organizing work. We analyze these axes to talk about the trajectories of their livelihoods,” remarked Blanco.

Both presentations were well accepted. Of particular interest was the comparison of the reality of artisanal fishers in Magallanes with that of fishers from other latitudes. The inhabitants of Magallanes have always been linked to global markets due to the extraction and export of king crab, false king crab, sea urchins, and hake, among others. “In general, artisanal fishers in the last five decades have not been oriented towards personal consumption or local markets. They have always catered to the national or export industry,” noted Blanco.

Dr. Gustavo Blanco during the Mare 2017 conference.

Research on the life stories of fishers allows us to reconstruct migrations, providing a narrative of the socio-ecological systems from the perspective of the actors who tell the stories of the changes. This allows us to construct a time line of the changes in mobility faced by local populations and how they relate to conservation projects.

The People and the Sea conference is held every two years and is organized by the Centre for Maritime Reseach of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The conference focuses on the use and management of marine resources.