CE27 - Culture, création, patrimoine

Non-Aristotelian Mapping of Lagoon Fishing Practices in Moorea – HITI

Submission summary

The population of Moorea, an island located in the Society archipelago of French Polynesia (FP), doubled between 1983 and 2002. This significant demographic growth generated a strong tension on the coastline and the lagoon, which has resulted in an intensification of fishing activities, physical degradation (embankments, extraction of coral materials for the construction of infrastructures, etc.) and an increase in the discharge of pollutants (wastewater, pesticides, etc.). Because of this anthropic pressure, the municipality of Moorea-Maiao established in 2004 a Marine Spatial Management Plan (MSMP) mainly composed of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and Regulated Fishing Zones (RFZ). Sixteen years after its formalization, the MSMP presents mitigated outcomes. Although the results remain encouraging from an ecological perspective, it is quite different from a societal point of view. Actually, the zonings and their regulations do not win the support of the lagoon fishermen. This failure can be explained by the cognitive and cultural inadequacy of the graphic representation of MPAs and PRZs. Lagoon fishing is indeed much more than a simple lagoon usage whose representation by zonings with fixed boundaries would be sufficient in itself. It is an ancestral practice linked to a singular socio-cultural context which, contrary to Western mental representations, is characterized by a triple continuum between nature and culture, land and sea, and humans and non-humans. Exploratory and descriptive, the HITI project aims to produce operational cartographic materials (i.e., usable by a maximum of people) that better reflect the experience of Moorea's lagoon fishermen through the consideration of this cultural principle. Called "non-Aristotelian," these maps, which transcend the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction, contain three basic elements: (1) physical markers that shape the collective mental representation of the lagoon; (2) spatial affectivities (i.e., the affective relationships that fishermen have with some parts of the lagoon); and (3) geosymbols (i.e., places collectively recognized by the community). To produce these maps, three experiments involving 60 fishermen will be conducted. First, spatial mental representations will be captured through sketch maps that will be analyzed individually and then collectively. Spatial affectivities will be assessed subsequently using narratives that will be spatialized in the form of individual graphs. The third experimentation will then consist in an interpretation of these supports in order to complete the speeches collected previously (hermeneutics). Generated from a Geographic Information System based on the theory of fuzzy subsets, the non-Aristotelian cartographies of the lagoon fishing practices in Moorea will compile in the end all the information obtained from these three experiments. These will provide policy makers tangible interpretation keys of the island's fishermen experience that could be used to improve the MSMP. They will also serve as a tool to valorize and save the Polynesian intangible cultural heritage that is lagoon fishing in FP.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CRIOBE Centre de recherche insulaire et observatoire de l'environnement

Help of the ANR 220,124 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2021 - 48 Months

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