Long-term coastal adaptation, food security and poverty alleviation in Latin America

ERC-Consolidator Grant

TRADITION is an ERC-Consolidator Grant funded research project that will assess the long-term development of small-scale fisheries in South America, and their legacy to present day food security and poverty alleviation. Our interdisciplinary team will investigate the historical ecology of subsistence fisheries along the Atlantic Forest coast of Brazil during major cultural and environmental events to test the hypothesis that fishing has played a role in supporting agricultural expansion in pre-Columbian times and during the historical colonization and urbanization of this region, and that this still echoes among present day artisanal fisheries. The traditional knowledge of small-scale fisheries is seen as crucial in current debates and policies concerning sustainable fisheries and biodiversity, yet these fisheries and their actors are historically invisible in most tropical and subtropical regions. A thorough recognition of their socio‐economic and ecological importance requires an understanding of the scale of human interaction with marine environments and resources that transcends modern assessments and most historical records.

The small-scale fisheries of the Atlantic Forest of Brazil

The Atlantic Forest coast of Brazil is a hotspot of world biodiversity and home to more than 60% of the Brazilian population1. Social development, biological conservation and management of natural resources are subjects of continuous debate in this region. Studies of traditional knowledge held by coastal communities in the Atlantic Forest have been limited to accounts spanning the past few decades. This coastline, however, has supported human populations for at least the last 6,000 years2, through periods of environmental change,  and social and economic upheaval – not least the introduction of agriculture and European colonisation in the early 16th century; the latter arguably creating a legacy of convoluted development. The fisheries and their actors have been largely neglected in this historical process3. TRADITION will focus on three distinct research areas: the southern (Santa Catarina State), southeastern (Espirito Santo State) and northeastern (Pernambuco, Bahia, Alagoas) coasts of Brazil.

Food security, sustainable development and marine conservation are an integral part of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These intergovernmental goals make TRADITION strategic, timely and relevant beyond the traditional boundaries of archaeology. We aim to demonstrate the potential of marine historical ecology to pressing issues in tropical and subtropical coastal societies of South America. In so doing, we aim to influence the training agenda of undergraduate and postgraduate students in South American archaeology and history, and enhance the relevance of these disciplines to the current development agenda.

TRADITION brings together a multidisciplinary and transnational research team to address Specific Objectives
Research objectives

Small-scale fisheries are multidimensional and as such their analysis requires an inter-, trans- and multi-disciplinary approach.

Meet the team, advisory board, project managers and partners of TRADITION

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 817911