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Fisheries in the Pacific

 | 
Simonne Pauwels
, 
Elodie Fache

Kanak coastal communities and fisheries meeting new governance challenges and marine issues in New Caledonia

Samuel Cornier et Isabelle Leblic

Texte intégral

Contextualization

  • 1 According to Marcel Mauss’ approach (1934), the adjective “traditional” refers to uses and practice (...)
  • 2 For a collection of studies about traditional fisheries and marine management in Oceania see the Pa (...)

1As one of the most biodiversity rich regions of the world, Oceania plays a key role in contemporary ecological, conservation and sustainable development strategies (Dahl and Carew-Reids 1985; Trichet and Leblic 2008; Kingsford et al. 2009). Throughout history, the Pacific environment has shaped Oceanian islander societies, and today it holds natural resources of international interest (D’Arcy 2006). The small Pacific states and overseas territories with few sources of income have mainly focused their cultural and economic strategies on the valuation of these resources and, more recently, on sustainable development. They therefore must deal with the growing constraints of global orientations related to environmental governance and protection, pressure from world powers, and the “soft-power” of conservation organizations (NGOs) targeting their natural heritage (see Giron in this volume; IUCN 2013). Meanwhile, these Pacific small states and overseas territories must also deal with indigenous communities for which coastal and marine territories have always been part of their sociocultural organizations and livelihoods (Malinowski 1935; Kent 1980; Johannes 1981; Hviding and Bains 1992). In Oceania, “community-based” and “participatory” approaches, through the integration of “traditional”1 knowledge and marine tenure, have become very popular means to reconcile marine conservation, fisheries management2 and the development of coastal communities (Ruddle and Johannes 1989; Akimichi 1995; Pomeroy 1995; Veitayaki 2004).

  • 3 The reference framework is set by the definition given by the World Conservation Union: “A MPA is a (...)
  • 4 France equipped itself with a new institutional tool in 2007, the Marine Protected Areas Agency (Ag (...)

2Over the past few decades, marine protected areas (MPAs) have progressively imposed themselves in the region, as elsewhere in the world, as the tool to be used to conserve coastal zones and provide social benefits with the implication of local stakeholders (Beaumont 1997). However, no uniform definition3 of this notion, which covers diverse realities depending on the region of the world considered, has been offered to date (Salvat et al. 2008). The international Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), a founding treaty, recognized the importance of MPAs and established international targets to create a representative network that should cover 20 to 30% of the world’s marine habitats (Day et al. 2015). MPAs have become instruments of state legitimization around which complex issues are tending to crystallize (Boncoeur et al. 2004; Dahou et al. 2004; Gaspar and Bambridge 2008) and elicit the “know-how” of a corpus of specialized experts at the impetus of international conservation lobbying groups (Claudet 2011; Féral 2011; Day et al. 2015). Recognition of this know-how has become a determining factor within the “management culture” taking root at the global level, and in which France wishes to impose itself as a leader4 for a “Pacific vision” of MPA governance (Salvat et al. 2008).

3For decades, New Caledonia, a French overseas territory located in the southwest part of the Pacific Ocean near Australia and New Zealand (see fig. 1), has played an important role in improving regional and national environmental, marine governance and sustainable development strategies (Cornier 2009: 107-117). The New Caledonian archipelago, which includes a main island (named Grande Terre in French) and various smaller surrounding islands (fig. 2), is widely known for its outstanding biodiversity. It is identified by the scientific community as the second hotspot of the planet after Madagascar, and the third country for vegetal endemism, after Hawaii and New Zealand (Richer de Forges and Pascal 2008).

  • 5 The term “resources” designates the ensemble of nickel volumes identified to date (25% in 2014). It (...)

4Given that the archipelago is estimated to hold 20 to 40% of world resources5 in nickel ore, it is also one of the leading countries in this mining industry. At the same time, New Caledonia is facing a crucial moment in its history, and between 2014 and 2018 must decide on its political future through a consultation process on “self-determination”.

Figure 1: New Caledonia in the landscape of Oceania

Figure 1: New Caledonia in the landscape of Oceania

Sources: Adaptation by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the “Oceania UN Geoscheme - Map with Zones”, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons, URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Oceania_UN_Geoscheme_-_Map_with_Zones.svg#/​media/​File: Oceania_UN_Geoscheme_-_Map_with_Zones.svg

5Being a world nickel leader while at the same time a sanctuary for biodiversity represents huge challenges and issues for such a small archipelago, and political institutions must reconcile these to plan for development (Leblic 1993; Faugère and Merle 2010; Demmer and Salomon 2015). Various economic interests and sociocultural and political strategies are at stake and give momentum to opposing views about the choices to be made concerning New Caledonia’s governance and self-determination. The Kanak indigenous people are heavily invested in all of these issues on which they have built part of their cultural identity recognition (Leblic 1993; Winslow 1995; Horowitz 2004). In this context, Kanak coastal communities and fisheries are facing new marine governance policies, sustainable governance challenges and mining governance schemes. This paper aims to bring together and examine these issues from a contemporary perspective.

6The present paper is based on field research (see fig. 2) conducted by Isabelle Leblic (1983-1989) in the south of New Caledonia (Isle of Pines, Yaté, Goro), on Maré Island, and on the East Coast (Ponérihouen), and by Samuel Cornier (2009-2013) on the North East Coast (Yambé). It focuses on Kanak traditional knowledge, marine customary management and fisheries, MPAs and the Coral Sea National Park around New Caledonia.

Figure 2: Map of linguistic and customary areas and location of the fieldwork areas on which this case study is based

Figure 2: Map of linguistic and customary areas and location of the fieldwork areas on which this case study is based

Souces: Adaptation and translation from French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the map Aires coutumières et langues de Nouvelle-Calédonie, Lacito-CNRS, 2011.

Historic and contemporary context of New Caledonia

  • 6 According to the Political Ecology theory, the adjective “cosmopolitical” refers to sociopolitical (...)
  • 7 Cruising for the first time near Grande Terre in 1774, James Cook named the island “New Caledonia” (...)
  • 8 This pre-colonial administrative breakdown was recognized in the 1988 Matignon-Oudinot Accords with (...)
  • 9 The term “country” refers to Kanak cosmopolitical organization over a specific territory.

7The archipelago has been inhabited since at least the Lapita period, dating back roughly 3,000 years (Sand 1995). It later hosted a civilization based on yam culture common to this part of Oceania, known as Melanesia (Haudricourt 1964). Cosmopolitical6 systems, referred to as “custom” in Melanesia, were structured around the triad “land – myths - social organization” (Missotte 1985; Leblic 1993). Social organization relied on related patrilineal lineages occupying complementary functions and forming “customary groups” (Leblic 1989a, 1993: 90-106). Land was the pillar of these groups’ existence. Their social identity was built in interaction with the territory where they were settled. The myths rooted in this territory recounted the origins of lineages and customary groups as well as their histories and migrations on which their statuses and functions in the society were based. The social hierarchy was organized around the “Elder son” (Grand fils in French), who descended from the “founding ancestor” and had particular “land-owner” rights over the territory because of his autochthony and status as “first occupant” (i.e., Leblic 1993: 75-116, 2000c, 2008). The rhythm of life was organized around the yam calendar with specific ritual ceremonies during which exchanges and alliances between lineages reinforced the customary groups’ identity and complementary functions (Leblic 1989a, 1993: 90-106, 2008). These groups were scattered across each island within more or less expanded sociopolitical wholes depending on their kinship links and alliances. When New Caledonia was discovered7 in the XVIIIth century, the archipelago was divided into distinct geographical “customary areas”8 within which groups shared genealogical, political and linguistic ties (see fig. 2). These customary areas were further subdivided into “customary districts” then “countries”9 at smaller social, territorial, and linguistic scales. Each country relied on a specific and more or less developed system of functions depending on the demography and level of cohesion and organization of the customary groups and territories. Nowadays, these pre-colonial cosmopolitical systems are referred to as “clans” (a set of lineages sharing the same name), “chiefdoms” (land-owner clan at the level of the country), “tribes” (customary group depending on the chiefdom), and “supra-chiefdoms” (land-owner clan at the level of a customary district) according to the Western classification introduced through colonization and history (i.e., Leblic 1989a, 1993: 90-106).

  • 10 The name “Kanak” comes from the Hawaiian term Kanaka, meaning “human being”, which was generally gi (...)

8After an initial period of contact with missionaries and marine traders, New Caledonia was occupied by France in 1853 and rapidly became a penal and settlement colony (Leblic 1993: 24-30). Indigenous people were given the name, “Kanak”,10 and underwent a colonization process based on their confinement in reserves, the spoliation of their lands, their evangelization and the denial of their traditional organizations and beliefs (Leblic 1993: 10-74; Merle 1998; Faugère and Merle 2010). This colonial situation had major incidences on the pre-colonial cosmopolitical systems and the identity of the customary groups, and led to the rise of Kanak cultural and independence claims in the 1970s (Leblic 1993; Chappell 2003). These claims culminated in a rough period of conflicts called “The Events” (Les Événements in French) at the end of the 1980s. To end these conflicts, a so-called “negotiated decolonization” process based on the Matignon-Oudinot Accords (1988) was initiated. The objectives were to end the violence, create local institutions and organize New Caledonia’s self-determination within 10 years (Barbançon 2015). These agreements were followed by the Noumea Accord (1998), in which the preamble recognized the Kanak people as the indigenous people of the archipelago and acknowledged the trauma they suffered from colonization (Leblic 1993; Mokaddem 2012). A strategic document also defined, amongst many other institutional, economic and social considerations, a framework aiming to increase the autonomy of New Caledonia and extend by a further 20 years the preparation period for a consultation process to define its future political status.

  • 11 Since the Noumea Accord, the French government has progressively been transferring, or sharing, ins (...)

9New Caledonia consequently fell into a specific sui generis territory status adapted to the French Constitution and structured around three pillars: local autonomous institutions (New Caledonia government, three Provinces — see fig. 2, and some transferred competencies, with some sovereign responsibilities retained by France11); the recognition of Kanak customary cosmopolitical organization; and the planning of a consultation of the population about the future of the archipelago.

  • 12 In New Caledonia, it is common to allude to this process as the “self-determination referendum” whi (...)
  • 13 If by 2019 this deadline has not been respected, the task of organizing the consultation will fall (...)
  • 14 Under the Noumea Accord, New Caledonian citizenship is attributed according to specific criteria, i (...)
  • 15 See also Leblic (1993) for a previous socioeconomic north-south rebalancing project in the 1980s.
  • 16 Among which a flag, the future name of New Caledonia, a slogan, an anthem and currency graphics.

10The Noumea Accord also stated that this consultation process12 was to take place between 2014 and 201813 under the initiative of the New Caledonia Congress so that everyone holding citizenship14 could vote on the territory’s future legal status, the remaining sovereign competencies, and citizenship matters. Part of the self-determination process also aims to create a socioeconomic balance15 between the north of the island (with a Kanak majority) and the south (mostly Westernized around the main city of Noumea). Another objective is to build symbols16 that could be shared by all of the inhabitants of New Caledonia and therefore induce a sense of “common destiny” among them (Leblic 2007; Faugère and Merle 2010). Some of these symbols were widely accepted (slogan, anthem) but there continues to be sharp controversy over the future flag of New Caledonia, which is subject to social and political tensions (Les Nouvelles calédoniennes 2015).

Figure 3: Distribution of communities in New Caledonia in 2009

Figure 3: Distribution of communities in New Caledonia in 2009

Sources: S. Cornier and I. Leblic, using “Répartition de la population par communauté en 2009”, ISEE, URL: http://www.isee.nc/​population/​recensement/​communautes

New Caledonia cultural and marine biological diversity

  • 17 The total population of New Caledonia was estimated to be 268,767 inhabitants in the last census co (...)
  • 18 The same census counted 42,065 Kanak residents in Greater Noumea (Grand Nouméa in French) for a tot (...)

11Due to the French government’s settlement and development policies, people from various countries and other islands of the Pacific region started to occupy the archipelago from the 19th century onward. Initially, metropolitan French were deported to New Caledonia, then, starting in the 20th century, others were attracted by economic and employment opportunities, and were encouraged by the French government (Leblic 1993). The history of the colonization, settlement and development of the territory, combined with Oceanian migration processes, thus contributed to the formation of a multi-ethnic society (see fig. 3). Complex claims based on community, identity and language are being voiced in the New Caledonian society today (Leblic 1993; Sand et al. 2003; Demmer and Salomon 2015). Huge inequities still exist between the three Provinces: the Kanak people represent the majority of the population in North Province and the Loyalties, while they are a minority in South Province, which hosts almost 70% of the total population17 of the archipelago, with more than 50% living in the main city, Noumea. Nevertheless, the majority18 of Kanak people now live in Noumea as well (ISEE 2014).

12New Caledonia hosts some of the richest marine biodiversity in the world, with approximately over twenty thousand species, 5% of which are endemic, inhabiting what is the longest continuous coral barrier reef of the world and the second largest after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia (Comité local Ifrecor 2006a; Richer de Forges and Pascal 2008). Marine scientists and environmental NGOs (such as Conservation International and the World Wild Fund) also consider the archipelago to be a sanctuary for many emblematic species such as whales, sea turtles, dugongs and birds. At the national level, New Caledonia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) represents the second largest maritime territory after French Polynesia, with a surface area of nearly 1.4 million square km. The archipelago alone holds 75% of the coral reefs and lagoons under French jurisdiction (Comité local Ifrecor 2006a; Richer de Forges et Pascal 2008).

  • 19 This project was initiated by local NGOs campaigning for sustainable development alternatives to th (...)
  • 20 The World Conservation Union defines an MPA network as: “a collection of individual marine protecte (...)
  • 21 For the main ones: Programme régional océanien pour l’environnement (PROE), Coral reef initiatives (...)
  • 22 The Conservatory for Natural Spaces (French acronym, CEN, for Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels) o (...)
  • 23 Under Article 3 of national law no 2001-017 of 11 January 2002 transferring the management of the m (...)

13This national and international recognition, combined with contemporary socioeconomic issues,19 were among the reasons that six marine clusters in the lagoons of New Caledonia, forming a serial site, were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008 (see fig. 4 and Comité local Ifrecor 2006a). The total area covers 16 million hectares, which represents almost 60% of New Caledonia’s marine coastal territories. An innovative framework was designed for the conservation of this area based on the concept of “integrated and participatory co-management”. Integrated coastal zones management consists of linking these marine clusters, which are deemed representatives of the marine biodiversity and ecosystems of the archipelago, to several upstream terrestrial buffer zones (Cicin-Sain and Belfiore 2005). The co-management of this area relies on the participation of international stakeholders (French MPA Agency, NGOs such as the World Wild Fund and Conservation International, UNESCO, scientific institutions such as the Research and Development Institute and Ifremer), the implementation of an “MPA network”,20 and multiple institutional scales of competencies. The legislative organization of New Caledonia leads in particular to a specific sharing of responsibilities. The Provinces, which have authority over the waters within their respective maritime public domains, as well as questions regarding the environment, are responsible for managing classified areas and the development of MPAs under their jurisdiction. The New Caledonia government, which has authority over the EEZ’s territorial waters, is responsible for the overall management of the UNESCO heritage site. The French government, which has sovereign power over New Caledonia’s EEZ, supports the local authorities in their management efforts, providing technical support for MPAs and ensuring coordination with regional and national actions21 and international conventions relative to the marine environment. Since 2012, the Conservatory for Natural Spaces22 was given the task of coordinating the management of the heritage site and works as a mediator between all of the stakeholders. Last but not least, the framework of the UNESCO area aims to closely integrate local stakeholders in a participatory process. Following global recommendations, Kanak indigenous communities living in the specified coastal zones were targeted by community-based approaches (Pomeroy 1995; Roe et al. 2000; Pollnac et al. 2001). In this perspective, traditional knowledge and customary management23 were identified as a means to promote sustainable development (Comité local Ifrecor 2006a).

Figure4: New Caledonia coastal zones and terrestrial buffer zones inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008

Figure4: New Caledonia coastal zones and terrestrial buffer zones inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008

Sources: Translation from French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of Map 1.a. in Comité local Ifrecor 2006a, Annexes Cartographiques, p. 4

Traditional marine management systems in Kanak society

  • 24 These concepts have been particularly studied in French anthropology (see chronologically Lévi-Stra (...)
  • 25 For a review of the diversity of definitions and ideologies surrounding TEK and some other similar (...)

14The concepts of “naturalist knowledge and know-how”24 were introduced in the 1950s as part of the methodological approach on which the ethnosciences are based (Barrau 1985; Friedberg 1987; Sheps 1993). This approach relies on the Western scientific idea that relationships between human beings and nature can be described by collecting and inventorying quantitative data related to local uses and perceptions of the environment. From the 1980s, it became very popular in the fields of environment management, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, with a growing interest in the term “traditional ecological knowledge” (TEK)25 (Johannes 1989; Inglis 1993; Berkes et al. 2000). However, there is considerable controversy over this term, mainly because it relies on a Western academic perspective and does not properly reflect, from most indigenous viewpoints, their holistic systems of knowledge which are part of larger cosmopolitical systems (McGregor 2008). TEK nonetheless remains widely popular. Interest in traditional knowledge initiated new maritime anthropology epistemological discussions to deepen understanding of the technical processes and occupation, exploitation, and appropriation modes of fishers and coastal communities and their representations of marine spaces (Breton 1981). Oceania played a major role in this renewal and consolidation of marine ethnobiology. Research conducted in this region revealed that indigenous Pacific populations had developed a corpus of highly specialized traditional knowledge linked to the marine species and coastal ecosystems that they exploited, and diversified traditional marine tenure systems or customary management systems aiming to regulate the uses of, and access to, marine resources and territories (Johannes 1981; Ruddle and Akimichi 1984; Ruddle and Johannes 1989).

Figure 5: An example of mapping a Kanak “country”: simplistic top-down view of the east coast of the paicî country and simplification of a lived space in this country, referred to as nâpö mä pôrôwâ in the paicî language (meaning “country and settlement”) (valley of Göièta, Ponérihouen).

Figure 5: An example of mapping a Kanak “country”: simplistic top-down view of the east coast of the paicî country and simplification of a lived space in this country, referred to as nâpö mä pôrôwâ in the paicî language (meaning “country and settlement”) (valley of Göièta, Ponérihouen).

© I. Leblic, translated from French to English from Leblic 2005: 97-99

  • 26 Jacques Barrau invited Isabelle Leblic to respond to a 1982 CORDET call for tenders on fishing in t (...)
  • 27 Marie-Hélène Teulières-Preston (1992, 2000) introduced the term “customary maritime law” to define (...)

15In this context, between the 1980s and the mid-1990s, studies were initiated by Isabelle Leblic26 in New Caledonia to gain a better understanding of Kanak fisheries and were progressively extended to traditional knowledge, customary marine tenure and development issues (Dahl 1985, 1989; Leblic and Teulières 1985, 1987; Leblic 1990, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001a, 2008). It has been revealed that despite colonization and its impacts on customary livelihoods, traditional knowledge and marine tenure systems are still operating in diverse ways in Kanak coastal communities. One point which must be kept in mind is that, as in most non-Western societies, the idea of “nature” does not exist in Kanak cosmogony. What makes sense is the country, defined as a territory where humans (sharing the same habits, languages and kinship links) and non-humans (animals, plants and spirits) are interconnected with each other (see fig. 5 and Leblic 2005: 97-100). At the level of the country, the concept of “land” extends from the mountain range to the barrier reef, including the lagoon, and thus reveals continuity between land and sea. Marine territories are therefore subject to the “customary law” of each country and fall under the responsibility of landowner clans just like any other type of territory. The main design principles of traditional marine management in Kanak society are the spatial and social boundaries determining the authority, system of rights27 and rules within the fishing community and cosmopolitical organization specificities of each country.

Pictures 1-3: Ancient fishing artefacts in the Museum of New Caledonia (Noumea)

Pictures 1-3: Ancient fishing artefacts in the Museum of New Caledonia (Noumea)

1. Dam filter on a raft, 2. Traditional fishing nets, and 3. Octopus fishing lure.
Sources: Leblic 2008: 59, 53 and 66, courtesy of the Museum of New Caledonia in Noumea, pictures by I. Leblic.

  • 28 These species (such as sea turtles and dugongs) generally are described as “customary” due to their (...)

16In her summary work of the ways Kanak societies live with the sea, Isabelle Leblic (2008) nevertheless suggests that, despite the diversity and singularities of countries, a general framework of customary marine management can be identified. Kanak fishing practices generally rely on specific traditional knowledge of marine biodiversity and ecosystems. Using a cultural technology methodology (see Creswell and his team, in the years 1970-1980; Haudricourt 1988) and ethnoscience, Leblic introduced a categorization of Kanak naturalist knowledge which includes the marine territory (toponymy; topography), species (biotope and life cycle; vernacular nomination and classification systems), annual ecological rhythms (moon and tides; seasons; winds; variations of weather), and associated technical skills (lure fishing; dam filters; various nests; harpoons; see pic. 1-3). Moreover, fishing practices are organized by gender. Men generally ish in the lagoon (for bait and/or daily supply), while women ish mostly from the shore and on the reef (collecting shells) (see pic. 4-5). An important distinction is also made between individual practices (for household and everyday supplies) and collective practices (dedicated to customary events such as annual celebrations, weddings, and burials) targeting specific species28 and relying on specific skills, rights and rules (see pic. 6-7).

Pictures 4-5: Daily fishing practices

Pictures 4-5: Daily fishing practices

4. Women collecting shells along the coast of Yambé and 5. A fisherman with his net on the shore.
© S. Cornier, 2010 and 2012.

  • 29 In New Caledonia, on the basis of Maurice Leenhardt’s research (1930, 1946), “totem” refers to one (...)
  • 30 Among these, sharks and banded sea kraits (Laticauda colubrina [Schneider 1799]) are among the most (...)
  • 31 “Taboo” refers to a social, magical, religious or ritual prohibition, and to the object or the plac (...)

17From a technical perspective, the Kanak make a clear distinction between knowledge which is locally qualified as indigenous, having mythic origins and “stolen” from the spirits (Leblic 1988, 2000b, 2001b), and exogenous knowledge and/or fishing gears which have been introduced since colonization. Indigenous knowledge includes magical and propitiatory skills and practices (magical stones, places of cult) dedicated to favour fishing through requests to the ancestors (see pic. 8a-b). “Totems”29 and ancestors play a major role in Kanak fisheries; as in every other human activity, their support is critical for success. In particular, some marine species are recognized as “customary species”30 (Leblic 2008). The criteria for this designation can vary like the “authenticity value” in relation to the indigenousness and status of different clans. Thus across New Caledonia, numerous clans have totems of marine species which have symbolic and ritual functions due to their links with the ancestors and mythic origins of some lineages (Leblic 1989b). For this reason, their capture, like their consumption, obeys very strict rules and involves the rights and specific competencies of certain clans to which they are sometimes exclusively dedicated. These customary species can play a symbolic role in the management of the marine world in order, for example, to guide fish into the nets or protect sailors during fishing expeditions. They can also act as guardians of marine territories. Totems and ancestors ensure the respect of customary maritime law and prohibitions, protecting in particular “taboo”31 sites, and can severely punish offenders (Leblic 2008).

Pictures 6-7: Return from collective fishing

Pictures 6-7: Return from collective fishing

6. Return from sea turtle fishing in Goro (February 1986) and 7. Return from milkfish or miikwa (Chanos chanos [Forsskål 1775]) fishing (October 1983) in the Isle of Pines.
© I. Leblic, 1986 and 1983

Pictures 8a-b

Pictures 8a-b

a. Old fishing magic stones and b. Mââgenin Rock, bay of Oro, an old place of cult for votive practices on the Isle of Pines.
Sources: Leblic 2008: 197-198, 8a: courtesy of the Museum of New Caledonia in Noumea, picture by E. Dell’Erba, 8b: © I. Leblic

  • 32 Isabelle Leblic (1988, 1989ab, 1991, 1993, 2001a, 2008) introduced the term, “fishing clans”, to de (...)

18Finally, to guarantee respect of customary maritime law, as well as the success of collective practices, some clans hold a high degree of naturalist knowledge and sociotechnical and magical skills; they are often recognized as “fishing clans”32 within the system of complementary functions operating in the country. In the past, their function used to be mainly identifying and effective during customary ceremonies and ritual exchanges between the chiefdom and its partners.

  • 33 See also Leblic (1989a, 2008).

19To conclude this section, it is critical to keep in mind that in Kanak coastal communities, the whole marine environment is socialized. As part of larger cosmopolitical systems, traditional marine management and fisheries rely on singular social organizations, countries, vernacular languages, naturalist knowledge and technical and magical skills. For these reasons, from a Kanak perspective, protecting the environment through the management of marine resources and territories is above all a way to preserve their livelihoods, technocultural systems, identity and heritage. Past research has demonstrated the existence of traditional marine conservation measures in some Kanak coastal communities, including “customary reserves” (Leblic 1989a-b, 2001b, 2008; Teulières-Preston 2000; Horowitz 2004, 2008). Léa Horowitz (2008: 263) provides some explanation about Kanak customary reserves: “Areas of land or sea may be set aside by customary authorities as ‘reserves’ for the exclusive use of certain groups or as a food source to be harvested during customary ceremonies (Teulières-Preston 2000). People may involve kin relationships to gain permission to fish or hunt in some types of reserve areas. In contrast, outsiders, usually townspeople of European origins, are often kept out of these reserves with road blocks or even chased away at gunpoint. While usually tolerated by local gendarmes, Kanak reserves are illegitimate under the French (now Provinces) legal systems which stipulates that the lagoon and state-owned lands are open to all”.33

  • 34 Donna Winslow (1995) suggested that the Kanak approach of managing the environment and natural reso (...)

20This perception refers to a “substantive rationality”34 which differs drastically from “formal rationality” inherent in Western perceptions of the environment and modern conservation, and in which the protection of biodiversity remains the primary goal and achieved through the regulation of human activities. The confrontation between these two rationalities has deep consequences for environmental and conservation projects implemented today in New Caledonia in the context of marine protected areas (MPAs).

Case study: the Hyabé/Lé-Jao Marine Protected Area (Yambé)

21Indigenous people from all of the Pacific Islands have developed traditional marine conservation methods targeting specific areas (Johannes 1978; Ruddle and Akimichi 1984; Ruddle et al. 1992). The management of these “customary reserves” operates through a system of area-specific restrictions such as fishing closures and openings, prohibitions of particular fishing gears or targeted species fishing regulations discussed at the level of the local communities. Meanwhile, indigenous communities often expected recognition of their cultural identity and heritage in the conservation project in which they were supposed to be involved (Horowitz 2008). Improvements in the implementation of MPAs thus progressively led to new schemes to better integrate traditional knowledge and customary management into Western marine conservation and fisheries management policies (Johannes 1982; Fiske 1992; Veitayaki 2004; Cinner and Aswani 2007).

  • 35 The official act was signed 24 September 1853 in Balade, some 20 kilometres north of the Yambé trib (...)

22In New Caledonia, researchers have shown an increasing interest in these topics since 2008 with a focus on the UNESCO World Heritage sites and associated MPAs (Horowitz 2008; Cornier 2009, 2010; Bodmer 2010; Faurie 2011a-b). Among the classified areas, the Northeast Coastal Zone (henceforth referred to using the French acronym, ZCNE, see fig. 6) can be distinguished by a number of singular features. Possession of the archipelago took place in this region,35 which was deeply marked by the colonial period. It remained for a long time marginalized due to its distance from the main economic centre, as well as its historic opposition to the regime imposed by France (Saussol 1979: 145-153; Rougeyron 1995). The contemporary situation is characterized by socioeconomic constraints related to infrastructure, local employment, and development projects (Leblic 1991, 1993; Freyss 1995: 401-413; Cornier 2010: 38-41). However, this isolation has also helped maintain ways of life, traditional knowledge and customary management, particularly in relation to maritime territories. It would thus be relevant to examine the expectations of local communities with regard to these MPAs, the ways traditional knowledge and customary management operating in this area are taken into account, and the contribution of these local development projects, notably involving fisheries.

Figure 6: New Caledonia Northeast Coastal Zone and terrestrial buffer zones listed on the World Heritage in 2008 and the Yambé tribe’s area

Figure 6: New Caledonia Northeast Coastal Zone and terrestrial buffer zones listed on the World Heritage in 2008 and the Yambé tribe’s area

Sources: adaptation and translation from French to English by S. Cornier of Map 1.d. in Comité local Ifrecor 2006a, Annexes Cartographiques, p. 7

  • 36 The second site is further south in the district of Hienghène, where the two Yeega and Doïmen MPAs (...)
  • 37 Rapid marine assessment programme coordinated by Conservation International (Mc Kenna et al. 2006); (...)
  • 38 Operating on the intra-shelf reef named Péwen, which means “manta ray” in the local vernacular lang (...)
  • 39 Underwater canyon within the La Seine fringing reef named Hwanga Lé-dan, which means “subsea tribe” (...)
  • 40 Provincial law no 2009-342/APN of 28 August 2009 (modified by law no 2012-88/APN of 29 February 201 (...)
  • 41 According to IUCN: “multiple-use MPAs may have a spectrum of zones within them, each zone type havi (...)
  • 42 The categorization is based on the IUCN referential which was adapted to the North Province’s code (...)

23The Yambe tribe’s area was selected as one of the two36 pilot MPA projects of the ZCNE (see fig. 6). Samuel Cornier (2010) established the correlation between this choice and the prior identification, based on scientific inventories,37 of “customary conservation measures set up by the tribe” (existence of a customary marine reserve,38 a reef considered taboo,39 regulation of dugong fishing) and a “local will to preserve” in response to fishing pressures from neighbouring tribes. Furthermore, the sub-dossier corresponding to the ZCNE had already fixed specific objectives: “identify indigenous knowledge, uses, and organization of the customary management of the marine environment”; “create one or several MPAs”; and favour “participatory management” (Comité local Ifrecor 2006b: 37-38). The World Wild Fund (WWF), in partnership with North Province, which is responsible for managing the ZCNE, was given the task of implementing this MPA through a participatory process involving the local Yambé tribe. The Hyabé/Lé-Jao MPA was officially established40 on 28 August 2009 and inaugurated on 12 March 2010 (WWF 2010). It is a “multipleuse”41 MPA, meaning designed around three types of management areas,42 where conservation objectives and North Province’s normative framework are expected to meet local traditional marine tenure (see fig. 7 and tab. 1).

Figure 7: Mapping of the official boundaries of the Hyabé/Lé-Jao multi-use MPA and the previous Yambé tribe’s customary reserve

Figure 7: Mapping of the official boundaries of the Hyabé/Lé-Jao multi-use MPA and the previous Yambé tribe’s customary reserve

Sources: S. Cornier using Google map; Cornier 2010; Faninoz 2009

Table 1: Customary marine management meeting the framework of marine conservation through the implementation of the Hyabé-Lé Jao MPA

Table 1: Customary marine management meeting the framework of marine conservation through the implementation of the Hyabé-Lé Jao MPA

© S. Cornier, 2015

24In the “sustainable resource management area”, fishing is allowed as long as it respects provincial law (which establishes periods of fishing for regulated species, quotas and catch size, prohibited species). This area refers to the customary marine territory, which is placed under the authority of the chiefdom of Yambé and the landowner clan of the tribe (i.e., the customary clan having land rights on this territory). The area was expanded to include territory to the north and south of the reef to respect customary kin relationships between the Yambé tribe and two neighbouring tribes, Tchambouène and Diahoué. These tribes were also invited to participate in the MPA project. The MPA also includes three “wildlife reserves”. Zone E (1-5), which refers to the customary taboo area (Hwanga Lé-Dan), and Zone F (1-4), covering the marine border with the customary district of Lé-Jao, are under a “permanent no-take” regulation. Zone G (1-4), which refers to the pre-existing customary marine reserve (Péwen), and which was not previously recognized under provincial law, is under a “partial no-take” regulation. Finally, the MPA’s terrestrial buffer zone, aims to integrate sustainable inland activities with respect to marine environment preservation objectives. This area refers to the main customary land under the responsibility of the chiefdom of Yambé.

25Having described the context, we will focus now on some issues regarding fisheries, traditional knowledge and customary marine management which have emerged from our field research. First, due to the MPA’s legal framework, some community members are frustrated because they feel that provincial law seems to be overriding their customary practices and rules more than it had in the past.

26“Now, with the MPA, it is not like before. We are no longer really the ones who decide. It is the (North) Province which decides when one can fish and for which fish. There are places we can no longer go, but before, we worked with customary request and gestures enabling us to fish in these places, and we used to decide everything together as a tribe, the periods of opening and closing of fishing. But we stay at home and so it is we who are the most affected” (extract from an interview with a 42-year-old man).

27Their opposition to the project and Western fishing prohibitions has had three main consequences. One is the emergence of overfishing, especially in the context of customary events when people have to ask for official permission to fish specific protected species. Permission must be asked beforehand from the police department of the council of Pouébo with authority over the territory of the tribe. The case of sea turtles (Chelonia mydas [Linnaeus 1758] in this case) that used to be collectively caught for customary events is significant (see Leblic 2008: 161-167; Sabinot in this volume). Because permission is now only attributed for the “Yam ceremony”, which is a central event in the customary calendar of northern Kanak communities, while the capture of sea turtles is prohibited during the rest of the year, people are tempted to capture more turtles than allowed or needed for the event. During fieldwork conducted in 2013, we observed that while a permit is usually attributed for one or two turtles, four turtles were captured (see pic. 9a-b-c).

28One may also witness hidden fishing practices involving protected and regulated species. People capture such species whenever possible, but keep their capture secret because they could be faced with penal and financial punishment (see pic. 10).

Pictures 9a-b-c: Sea turtles caught and cooked in their shells for the Yam ceremony in Yambé

Pictures 9a-b-c: Sea turtles caught and cooked in their shells for the Yam ceremony in Yambé

© S. Cornier, 2013

Picture 10: Head and guts of a sea turtle barely concealed along the coast

Picture 10: Head and guts of a sea turtle barely concealed along the coast

© S. Cornier, 2013

29“Now, if people catch one (sea turtle) in the nets, or see one passing right next to them and they snag it, they then only cook the turtle in their house with their family. To avoid problems, we no longer share it the way we use to. But sometimes others can smell it and the next day they lecture us, but it stays between us, it is only to laugh” (extract of an interview with a 60-year-old man).

30In addition, some ancestral fishing areas have been abandoned. Some people show their opposition to the MPA and the associated new legislation by simply giving up fishing zones in which they used to go before the implementation of the project. This seems to be particularly the case with the reef where the multizone system appears to be the most confusing, with some people mistaking no-take areas for sustainable management areas under provincial law.

31“Me, before I had my spots on the reef where I placed my nets and threw out a line. But now with the MPA no one knows anymore what is prohibited or not. So I no longer go out. But it also is to show that I do not agree with all this. Their story is not clear and it is not the (North) Province or WWF which should tell us what to do in our own home (extract of an interview with a 55-year-old man).

  • 43 The species considered in this case is the bear paw clam (Hippopus hippopus [Linnaeus 1758]), also (...)

32Other impacts of the MPA affect traditional fishing practices and traditional knowledge more directly. This is well illustrated by the case of the giant clam.43 Like in other parts of Melanesia (Hviding 1993), in the past people grew these shellfish along the shore in “coastal gardens”, mainly for home consumption (see pic. 11a-b-c). However, this practice was regulated due to the categorization of giant clams as an endangered species in North Province’s environment code. One potential consequence is the loss of traditional naturalist and technical knowledge linked to this species, partly because most people still think this practise is prohibited rather than regulated. Another is an increase in hidden behaviour, as people who want to perpetuate the practice of growing giant clams will do so secretly in order not to become outcasts.

33“Today with the MPA you can no longer fish (for giant clams) like that. In addition, they (the scientists, WWF) do not even know that people here in Yambé rear giant clams on the seashore. We have always done that to avoid having to go on the reef to fish. Giant clams also reproduce very quickly and you quickly see mounds growing. We, in the tribe, do not really pay attention to the regulations on giant clam fishing” (extract of an interview with a 40-year-old man).

Pictures 11a-b-c: “Coastal gardens” and giant clams

Pictures 11a-b-c: “Coastal gardens” and giant clams

a. Examples of “coastal gardens” along the near shore.
© S. Cornier, 2013
b. Freshly collected giant clams.
c. The flesh of the giant clam is much appreciated by local people. Fearful that this could lead to overfishing, government authorities introduced the targeted regulation of this species within the MPA.
© S. Cornier, 2010

34Following international recommendations, MPA management is now based on a “multidisciplinary research-action” approach organized around preliminary evaluation, implementation and monitoring processes which are increasingly becoming more normative to it institutional frameworks (Claudet 2011). This recent methodology aims to combine and optimally reconcile objectives of biological conservation with cultural, socioeconomic, and political considerations through scientific research.

  • 44 For a review of previous results of SEK regarding coral reefs protection, management and valorisati (...)

35However, particular attention must be paid to how the Yambé indigenous people perceive Western “scientific ecological knowledge” (SEK)44 and how it may impact their perception of the MPA in comparison to customary management.

36Firstly, we observe that some local fishermen doubt scientific knowledge when it does not coincide with their own traditional knowledge.

37“The scientists say that the reef takes a long time to recover. But we know it is fast. In 4-5 years in some places. We do not agree with them about many things, but we do not dare tell them for fear of offending them. So we let them believe what they like, after all, they are paid for their little business, but I am no longer interested in their stories” (extract of an interview with a 50-year-old man).

38“It is like what they say about cyclones. They say cyclones damage things. But the elders have always said that cyclones are needed to clean the beds, to renew the lagoons and eliminate pollution” (extract of an interview with a 65-year-old man)”.

39“These guys study turtles but when we go with them for a count they cannot even see them. We see them right away but we do not always tell them. So their counts are really not very exact” (extract of an interview with a 65-year-old man).

40Their perception of the vulnerability of marine resources, the diversity or the interest of some marine species, and the impact of their practices often sharply diverges from the scientific point of view.

41“They (the scientists) came to study a small yellow fish with a blue spot (Pomacanthus xanthometopon [Bleeker 1853]). I don’t remember what they call it. It was important for them, but we do not even have a name for that fish. It is quite small so we do not fish for it or eat it, we do not pay it any attention. What we want protected are the turtles, bluespine unicornfish and golden-lined spinefoot (Siganus lineatus [Valenciennes 1935] locally named “picots”) because they are important to us” (extract of an interview with a 45-year-old man).

42“They have a giant clam reseeding project too. We know where the clams are. They are no longer on the reef, you have to know the spots, but we do not tell everyone. They made a count and found that the population was low. They are the ones who insisted on reseeding from the Golone farm” (extract of an interview with a 40-year-old man).

43They particularly do not understand the need for the fishing prohibitions and regulations recommended by scientists as they feel the pressures on their marine territory are very low.

44“What I do not understand is why they came to make a MPA here when there already was a customary reserve. Instead of creating one themselves with other people in other places. They should have gone to Pouébo because the reef and sea are much more damaged and there are no longer as many fish as before” (extract of an interview with a 60-year-old man).

45“The problem with the ban on fishing (turtles here) is that the population can no longer be regulated. The count results are not representative; we see that there are too many now. It would be better to adapt the laws to the actual context rather than deciding once and for all not to touch” (extract of an interview with a 35-year-old man).

46However, other fishermen downplay the efficiency of their traditional knowledge and feel ignorant faced with the purportedly omnipotence of “Western science”. Such feelings spring from the colonization process, during which the Kanak people’s knowledge was ignored and considered “primitive”, progressively giving some of them the sense that Western knowledge was more efficient than their own.

  • 45 In Kanak cosmogony, marine subsea territories are often considered as sanctuaries for the dead (the (...)

47Secondly, the scientific investigation processes used to study the marine environment are perceived as disturbing because they are based on a Western biological perception of nature while for the Kanak people their marine territory remains part of their country where non-humans — especially the dead,45 ancestors and totems — reside. For example, in this case study, there was strong local opposition to the research conducted in the taboo area (Zone E (1-5) in fig. 7) where according to local customary systems specific behaviours must be observed and no one is supposed to dive or cause any disturbance.

48“They (the scientists and the WWF marine coordinator) had to go under (dive in the taboo area of Hwanga Lé-Dan) to see and people here were not happy. They even filmed and took photographs. These guys don’t respect anything, they want to see everything, know everything, while for us, it was always forbidden. Just imagine if we went poking around the forbidden places in their homes. We would see then what they would say” (extract of an interview with a 45-year-old man).

49More generally, scientific activities are often considered very intrusive and opposed to the community’s efforts to maintain the tranquillity of marine species and spirits. The lack of limits in scientific investigation combined with misunderstandings about scientific knowledge and processes explain why some people are bothered by or show little interest in the activities of scientists working in the MPA.

50“Me, I do not really agree. They (the scientists) always need to go out to sea to take samples, count or dive. But from our point of view, when we want to protect, we just leave the fish alone” (extract of an interview with a 35-year-old man).

51“They (the scientists) came again today. I saw their boat leave and then on the reef. But we do not even know what they have come to do, we are not kept informed. In the beginning, people were interested, but no one pays attention anymore. When they need us, we are here, but that is all” (extract of an interview with a 30-year-old man).

52We thus witness a situation where provincial law, fisheries regulations, scientific ecological knowledge and MPA legislation either are not always understood or are deliberately ignored by local stakeholders. In Yambé, people seem to consider that they can still do whatever they want on their country, including within the MPA. At the same time, customary maritime law is not operating as efficiently as it used to due to changes induced by the project. The confusion in people’s minds about which law is now effective in their marine territory leads them to engage in new fishing behaviours, locally called “outlaw” behaviour, which do not respect either provincial law or customary rules.

53“With laws characteristic of the rule of law there is a new risk of transgression. The law is made to be broken. It is different from the implicit which is attached to culture, which is anchored profoundly in the mentality of people. Implicit rules are made up of their lives and they know that they must be respected for the equilibrium of the community, the cohesion of the group — they are much stronger” (extract of an interview with a 60-year-old man).

54“It is difficult now to explain to young people or to fishers from other tribes. There is the MPA and the laws of the (North) Province, but they also see that people are less involved than before when there were old fashioned manners. So it is no longer like before when they knew there would be trouble if they did not respect prohibitions” (extract of an interview with a 46-year-old woman).

55“For old people, when something was forbidden, it was forbidden. Everyone knew what was what and respected the ban. But now there are people who act tough, who go fish anyway. They go on the reef to fish” (extract of an interview with a 50-year-old man).

56Earlier, we highlighted the impacts of the MPA on local knowledge and some fishing practices; we will now deal with some of the project’s impacts on customary management. International recommendations regarding the community-based MPA approach have focused on the importance of creating a “co-management committee” in which all stakeholders are represented and traditional marine tenure is incorporated in the participatory process involving local communities (Pollnac et al. 2001). With this in mind, a co-management committee was created for the Hyabé/Lé-Jao MPA. This committee includes local representatives of the Yambé tribe and representatives of the neighbouring Tchambouène and Diahoué tribes, representatives of North Province and of the council of Pouébo. The WWF keeps a coordinating role to assume the management of the MPA in partnership with the committee, North Province and scientists. However, while this committee was built on paper as a “metaphor” of customary systems, in concrete terms it remains disconnected from local sociopolitical organization. Indeed, the committee works at the rhythm imposed by the representatives of the Province, scientists and WWF; meetings and interventions are often planned during the week when most people are working or are occupied with their daily customary tasks. Moreover, the committee relies on Western administrative tools (meeting reports, financial planning, and project management methods) whereas people are used to and would have expected traditional protocols such as palavers and elders’ meetings.

57“Their business is too long. We have other things to do than sit in their meetings, we don’t have time to waste and while we are stuck in the meetings there is no one to take care of the fields or do the other work. They arrive full of words but they do not make real progress. In the beginning, everyone was motivated, young people too, but now we are fed up with their meetings in which nothing gets done, nothing is ever finished” (extract of an interview with a 32-year-old man).

58“Old people in Colnett and Diahoué (neighbouring tribes of the Lé-Jao district) have also told us that the old ways were easier. They asked us why we did not go back to the old ways? Oh yes, it was better before all this blah blah blah and all these papers” (extract of an interview with a 60-year-old man).

59Finally, the committee mostly substitutes for, rather than integrates, previously existing habits and customary management. However, one of the main concerns is the progressive loss and erosion of these customary systems and marine heritage as people had deep expectations about the MPA in this regard. The local population appears unlikely to become very involved in the project due to the gap between the way it is being implemented and their expectations.

60“For us, the objective of the MPA is to preserve resources and by doing so, preserve our culture and our old ways. Because all of these species and marine sites, like the taboo reef, are valuable to us. The turtles are also related to very important customs, like for hunting” (extract of an interview with a 46-year-old woman).

61“The idea was to continue with modern tools what our elders had started before with the customary reserve. It is so that the young can benefit from and continue the ways of the tribe. Otherwise, it serves no purpose” (extract of an interview with a 50-year-old man).

62The participatory approach also has other effects. Part of the methodology consists of defining which components of the traditional marine tenure are able to meet the conservation objectives and fit the framework of the MPA. Thus a selection process discriminates between these components and others (Brennan Jacot 2010). This process builds a kind of reductive perspective of “customs and traditions” because only a very few components of traditional management are targeted by the MPA (the taboo area, the customary marine reserve and emblematic species in this case study). In addition, the cosmopolitical values and customary rights and rules that previously regulated these components are only partly recognized in the MPA through fishing regulation considerations. This process can also be described as “set in stone” because the components selected in the MPA will now be submitted to prescriptions by law although the main characteristic of traditions is their capacity to adapt to changing sociocultural circumstances at the local level. Customs must be understood as being in continuous motion whereas the framework of the MPA implies new restrictions on adaptation and innovation. Again, this selection process meets with little local support because people feel as if they are hostages of the MPA and its normative framework which differs from their perception of managing the sea.

63“I remain guarded about the MPA because there are still questions about the results of this approach, notably about the consequences of having the rule of law take the place of customary precedent. From the beginning, I preferred to distance myself from their (scientists, WWF, North Province) discourses. We do not want to be hostage to this rule of law, this MPA should be above all else a sanctuary, notably for different customary events. Here, culture, custom, our way of thinking about things does not always correlate with this rule of law” (extract of an interview with a 60-year-old man).

64Global reflections about the economic value of MPAs have also focused on “ecotourism” as a means for sustainable development (Agardy 1993). In the view of the WWF, and in order to answer the expectations of North Province, ecotourism was believed to further both marine conservation objectives and provide socioeconomic benefits for the community participating in the management of the MPAs. In this case study, a snorkelling “subsea discovery trail” and an “ecolodge” were considered for the Hyabé/Lé-Jao MPA, but they were never implemented. The two projects were aborted due to the local community’s minimal interest in such activities, which did not fit their idea of the MPA.

65“However, for the reef (Péwen), I am not in favour of letting people dive on the protected reef. We want to continue the old ways and it is different to bring tourists in all the time to go diving and continually disturb the fish. We protect them so that they can be left in peace” (extract of an interview with a 40-year-old man).

66“After, everyone must discuss together about it (the ecolodge) to see what they think. We have to talk about it but it is their (North Province and WWF) idea. Our priority is conservation, protecting resources and the old ways” (extract of an interview with a 65-year-old man).

67Indeed, these projects were based on a “simplistic vision” of the community (Le Meur 2008). Due to the value accorded to the marine environment, the latter is assumed to be interested in sustainable development projects. However, most local actors have diverse job prospects and responsibilities, are invested in a good number of tribes’ organizations and also harbour other expectations regarding the development of their region.

68“The heritage (UNESCO project) stipulates a wish to take into account human activities. But at the council level (Pouébo), we are not sufficiently equipped; we do not even have correct sanitation networks. No funds are available, there is no suitable tax system, and legal texts are nonexistent. One should favour the determination of local people land by land, unlike the big words of politicians. The politicians waste millions on bad development” (extract of an interview with a 60-year-old man).

69“Sustainable development is just a question of money for the (North) Province. Here, people still do not have internet (high speed), there is no infrastructure for young people, there are problems with the roads and one has to go all the way to Koumac (on the west coast) to find stores. We also have tribal projects but there is never any follow up or response. It is always the same with politicians” (extract of an interview with a 55-year-old man).

  • 46 INTEGRE (French acronym for Initiative des territoires du Pacifique Sud pour la gestion régionale d (...)
  • 47 A nursery project initiated in 2012 formulated by the tribe had enabled an abandoned quarry on the (...)

70The WWF and political representatives mostly operate within an “ethnical and folkloric” conceptualization of the Yambé community and the participatory approach represents precisely one important process to build “imagined communities” (Le Meur 2008). However, the economic valorisation of the MPA through ecotourism did not take into account local expectations and prevented the achievement of primary objectives, especially of local initiatives and fisheries development. With the recent reshuffling of the WWF and North Province marine coordinators, the recruiting of a coordinator and local animators for the ZNCE, as well as projects such as INTEGRE,46 it appears that new directions to better respond to local expectations are being followed in Yambé,47 and at the larger scale of the ZCNE, but they still need to be analysed in the field (see Bodmer and Marty 2014).

  • 48 See notably the North-East coast MPAs Information Bulletin (Le Journal des Aires Marines Protégées (...)

71To conclude, the Hyabé/Lé-Jao MPA case study is one more example of the opposition between Western and Kanak ecological rationalities (Leblic 1993; Winslow 1995; Horowitz 2008). Therefore, despite the participatory approach adopted and some primary observations (Bodmer 2010), long term fieldwork revealed that the tools and objectives of the project’s coordinators (North Province, WWF) do not effectively meet the Yambé community’s expectations or give real recognition to customary management. In particular, the MPA poses more constraints for fishers through increased provincial and scientific influence, its normative framework and complex management schemes, while affecting fishing practices and regulations, traditional knowledge and marine tenure. Like all development projects, the MPA establishes a new “local arena” within which complex issues crystallize (Leblic 1993; Le Meur 2008). From the viewpoint of the Yambé tribe, the MPA is a means to have its authority over the territory and marine resources recognized and perpetuate traditional knowledge and customary management, which is part of a marine heritage to be passed down to future generations. From the viewpoint of North Province, the MPA is part of territorial legitimization and socioeconomic rebalancing processes at the heart of the self-determination of New Caledonia, which it has historically led. Lastly, from the viewpoint of the new “development brokers” (WWF, scientific institutions), the MPA contributes to the legitimization, refinement, and vulgarization48 of their specialized know-how in marine and coastal area conservation, of which they are the ideological spokesmen. However, under the guise of these environmental issues, this development arena accords only partial attention to traditional knowledge, customary management and local fisheries issues, to the detriment of political and ideological questions that go far beyond the expectations of the local community. This situation could result in less and less interest and involvement of the people over the long term, and would not properly benefit local fisheries. A last question raised is whether this MPA could be effective and locally managed without the support and financial subsidies of the North Province’s marine services and development brokers.

Linking Kanak fisheries and New Caledonia governance challenges

  • 49 See Leblic (1993: 260-278, 1999: 131-133, 2001a: 146-148) for details about Kanak fishing cooperati (...)
  • 50 The “FADIL” boat project aimed to promote commercial fishing in Kanak communities by giving fishers (...)

72Looking at past Kanak fisheries development initiatives, Leblic (1990, 1993, 1999, 2001a) found rather disappointing results. The main reason that these initiatives fell short is that they already failed to take into account traditional Kanak cosmopolitical organizations, customary management and the existence of fishing clans (Leblic 1999: 133-137). Leblic’s studies evidenced that these initiatives were based instead on a “simplistic vision” of Kanak communities, a supposed “primitive communism” (Leblic 1990, 1991, 1993). They consequently suffered from strong “ethnocentrism” and simply transposed the Western concept of fishing cooperatives49 to New Caledonia even though it did not coincide with the Kanak perception of collective organization. In the case of the “FADIL” boat project,50 Leblic also highlighted a lack of planning, professionalism and qualifications on the part of project holders, and the absence of a commercial network to sell fishers’ catches. As a result, these projects were aborted and the boats often abandoned on the coast. More generally, Leblic also found two factors restricting their success: Western administrative constraints and a deep dependency on financial subsidies. The recommendations that she made in her successive works were never taken into account to improve these projects. One may note that most of the issues Leblic identified with regard to Kanak fisheries in the 1990s are still encountered in contemporary projects, as was shown in the case study of the Hyabé/Lé-Jao MPA.

73Today, the situation of Kanak fisheries is not very encouraging. Indeed, this sector is facing strong competition from more popular and lucrative sectors such as mining and biodiversity conservation (Léopold et al. 2013). No real strategies are being implemented to improve fisheries commercial networks over the archipelago or the professional qualifications of fishers. Competition with “recreational fisheries” is another factor limiting the development of coastal commercial fisheries in New Caledonia (Leblic 1990, 1991, 1993, 1999; Léopold et al. 2009, 2013). In addition, in Kanak coastal communities, most fishers are not considered by government authorities to be professional fishers despite the size of their catch or their membership in fishing clans which give them particular rights and/or functions over marine territories and fishing activities (Leblic 1989ab, 1993; Léopold et al. 2013). In consequence, the Provinces still often consider fisheries to be a secondary objective in coastal zone development plans, placing a priority instead on sustainable governance, MPAs and ecotourism, which they believe provide better “ecological services” (Léopold et al. 2013).

74Nevertheless, at a global scale, MPAs have become key topics in the field of fisheries management and many research studies describe potential benefits to marine ecosystems if targeted areas, species and habitats are combined with appropriate planning, zoning and regulation schemes (for a complete review see Ward et al. 2001; Boecker 2012). However, a wide range of studies have shown that there are also costs that may impact local fisheries, such as conflicts between fishers, local disagreements involving MPAs, increased fishing pressures near no-take areas, and ecosystem perturbations ensuing from a lack of fishing effort (Claudet 2011; Le Sann 2013a). Recommendations about MPAs highlight that the involvement of local communities, and more particularly the integration of fishers, are key for management success (Boecker 2012). The recognition of fishers would be a first step so that they could share their knowledge and expectations, and build positive relationships with scientists, NGOs and political representatives to accurately implement, manage, and monitor MPAs.

  • 51 COGERON (French acronym for Organiser la cogestion des ressources à forte valeur patrimoniale en No (...)

75In New Caledonia, such an approach within the MPA network implemented today could effectively benefit fisheries (see fig. 8). However, research still needs to be improved to better understand the impacts of this process on Kanak fisheries around the archipelago. In the Hyabé/Lé-Jao MPA, even though local fishers are expecting recognition of their territories, traditional knowledge and practices, marine customary management and functions, these are not taken properly into account in the project. A quick look at a larger scale shows that the historical and sociopolitical specificities of each Kanak country have specific consequences for each MPA project. Research conducted in other regions of the archipelago have highlighted that MPAs can be used as tools for empowerment and recognition in diverse sociocultural, political and economic strategies (such as land conflicts between clans, political claims and strategies regarding small-scale economic projects or even claims against the mining industry) developed at the local community level (Horowitz 2008; Lasseigne 2008; Poncet 2010; Sauboua 2010; Toussaint 2010; Faurie 2011a; Le Meur et al. 2012; Léopold et al. 2013). Since 2008, a growing trend of conferring a heritage value to marine spaces outside the UNESCO serial site can also be observed in these studies. The Provinces as well as some coastal communities looking for recognition and benefits from their marine territories seems to be riding the wave of interest in marine co-management. In this context, one needs to pay particular attention to each MPA’s arena and stakeholders’ expectations, to local cosmopolitical systems and history, as well as Kanak traditional knowledge and symbolic representations of the marine environment in order to favour “co-construction of knowledge” during the whole process, from the preliminary evaluation up to the management of the MPA. The multidisciplinary research-action approach proposed in scientific literature could contribute to this by taking into account the variability of the issues at stake and actors concerned by the governance of MPAs (Chaboud et al. 2008; Claudet2011). Today, some projects, such as the COGERON,51 are trying to adopt this methodology in New Caledonia (Léopold et al. 2009, 2013; Poncet 2010; Toussaint 2010; Le Meur et al. 2012). However, these efforts remain isolated and also reveal some difficulties encountered by anthropologists in discussing and making their viewpoints known to other scientific disciplines and project policy coordinators.

Figure 8: New Caledonia MPA network in 2015

Figure 8: New Caledonia MPA network in 2015

Sources: Translation from French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the map “Nouvelle-Calédonie:
Aires marines protégées”, French MPA Agency, URL:
http://cartographie.aires-marines.fr/​sites/​all/​modules/​carto/​pdf/​GES_NC_AMP.pdf

  • 52 Workshop (S40): De Wit R., Narchi N. E., Camoui L. E. and Cornier S. (co-chairs) – “Ethnothassic in (...)
  • 53 For more details on “co-learning” and “co-construction of knowledge” concepts and on the ethical qu (...)

76It was precisely regarding this point that the recent conclusions made at workshops52 dedicated to marine ethnobiology and the management of MPAs emphasized the importance of more effectively involving marine ethnobiology and anthropology in the planning of MPAs. Indeed, the relationship established between local stakeholders and ethnologists during their long-term fieldwork offers consistent data that allow a better understanding of communities’ expectations, traditional marine tenure and sociopolitical constraints, and might therefore positively influence the development and management of MPA projects with other stakeholders. However, the recommendations made during these workshops have stressed that marine ethnobiology and ethnographic research will really benefit MPAs if the multidisciplinary approach builds a clear framework for “transversality” (Narchi et al. 2014) rather than remaining at a conceptual stage. A space of dialogue should be created in order to build a new vision of MPAs, define common tools, language and partnerships between MPAs’ political actors, conservation NGOs and scientists, foster local stakeholders’ empowerment and expectations and switch the focus from the “bottom-up” approach that is still dissimulated behind the integrated and participatory process towards a “co-learning” or “co-existence”53 process.

  • 54 Local nickname given to nickel ore, which highlights its patrimonial dimension in New Caledonia (se (...)

77Marine conservation is just one of the challenges facing Kanak fisheries in New Caledonia. Nickel mining is another very important one. It is impossible to avoid “King Nick”.54 The industry has been part of New Caledonia’s history and development since the beginning of the colonial period and today dominates the economy (Bencivengo 1999), representing almost 10% of the Gross Domestic Product and more than 90% of commercial exports (IEOM 2014). Accounting for 7% of global nickel production, New Caledonia was the sixth largest producer in the world in 2014 (CEROM 2015). This percentage is expected to reach 15% in the near future due to the recent establishment of two factories which are globally competitive in terms of capacities and technologies. One is located in the northwest of the main island, the Koniambo Nickel SAS (KNS) project, and the other in the south, the Goro-Nickel project (see fig. 9), and both are linked in complex ways to self-determination issues and the socioeconomic balance process related to the Matignon-Oudinot Accords (Leblic 1993) and then the Noumea Accord (Horowitz 2004; Demmer 2007). This contemporary development of the mining industry relies on strong partnerships between New Caledonia and various countries (France, Canada, Japan, Australia, Korea) looking for rare ores while China has also entered the game and became the territory’s first client in 2014 (IEOM 2014).

Figure 9: Nickel mining centres and companies in New Caledonia

Figure 9: Nickel mining centres and companies in New Caledonia

Source: Adaptation by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of Figure 1 in Wells et al. 2009

  • 55 The last two major incidents occurred in 2009 and 2014 in the Goro-Nickel mine area with respective (...)

78Despite its economic benefits, such an industry nonetheless has major consequences. First, nickel ore remains a “non-sustainable” resource and its long-term financial profitability is highly dependent on market rates and international competition. Basing New Caledonian development and self-determination on such a resource implies making appropriate choices (Lagadec and Sudrie 2013). Moreover, nickel ore requires ever more powerful mining and processing methods and its exploitation impacts the environment through direct and indirect pollution. Its impacts on coastal zones and marine biodiversity are denounced by local organizations and scientists (Richer de Forges and Pascal 2008). However, the mining operators and local authorities still largely deny these environmental impacts, even when faced with evidence of pollution incidents.55 This phenomenon is progressively creating a new divide between protected coastal zones and other zones that seem to be deliberately sacrificed to high impact activities such as mining (Faurie 2011b).

79Nevertheless, mining has real sociocultural repercussions in New Caledonia. In Kanak society, it is becoming increasingly attractive because it offers great opportunities for jobs and training. People, and in particular young people, have now experienced Western wages and living standards, which are very different from their customary habits and traditional exchanges, and are often leaving their tribes and countries to reach mining centres. Under the impact of this industry and diverse other socioeconomic factors springing from New Caledonia’s development model (centralised administration, education system, cultural centres), one can observe that the tribes are progressively becoming “vacation” sites for young people, where they return to spend their weekends or holidays when not going to Noumea. Related impacts on customary systems can already be observed and will probably be accentuated in the future. Their daily involvement in customary ways of life and the local development of their country appears to be less and less important. History already has shown that when the mining industry is flourishing and hiring en masse, fishing activities in particular often tend to decrease in Kanak communities. Consequently, the marine environment and fishing practices now hold more of a “recreational” interest for Kanak youth, which could partly explain their low involvement in the sectors of fisheries and MPAs (Léopold et al. 2013). For example, in the case of the Hyabé/Lé-Jao MPA, no youth from Yambé showed any real interest in applying for the job as the local animator of the project, although many of them are working or training in the mining sector, which they consider offers better professional and lifestyle perspectives.

  • 56 In 2014, 18 mollusc farming areas were operating in New Caledonia (IEOM 2014).
  • 57 See Virly et al. (2005) for a report about aquaculture impacts on coastal mangroves in New Caledoni (...)
  • 58 Interview with Martine Cornaille (President, EPLP) after a heated debate on this subject in which s (...)

80To conclude this section, the New Caledonia political context also is posing some constraints. One consequence of the self-determination process with respect to Kanak fisheries is the static behaviour of local institutions. Few decisions and initiatives are effectively taken or given continuity locally when political realignments are regularly at work and their outcomes are awaited. In this context, politicians are paying little attention to small-scale fisheries as they focus on more strategic sectors such as conservation and mining (Léopold et al. 2013). Aquaculture56 is one marine economic sector in which the Provinces have also shown interest in their development strategies. The sector remains nonetheless small (1% of exports), and is undergoing a crisis in niche markets, but it offers interesting perspective in terms of the economic rebalancing between the Provinces (IEOM 2014). While the majority of activity is concentrated in South Province (with 72% of farm surface areas), North Province is quite interested in it, and has coastal areas suitable for the development of breeding basins. However, local organizations, such as EPLP (French acronym for Ensemble pour la Planète), are denouncing some of aquaculture’s impacts57 on coastal zones and mangroves, such as silting due to discharge from farms, or pollution due to the use of antibiotics and food supplements to optimize the health of shrimp, which are the main species grown in New Caledonia. These impacts are suspected to have direct consequences on some fishing activities and areas (the collection of crabs by Kanak women’s organizations for example), as well as on consumers’ health (EPLP 2014b, 2015a). According to EPLP,58 local authorities and aquaculture stakeholders deny that these perverse effects exist, and scientists specialized in this sector generally support this denial.

  • 59 This MPA is located on the west coast of North Province at the level of the communes of Voh and Kaa (...)

81In addition, in the context of the Koniambo Nickel SAS (KNS) mining project launched in North Province, the brand new town of Voh-Koné-Pouembout is currently emerging from the ground. From the Province’s perspective, this town is expected to become a real city which aims to counterbalance, as part of the self-determination process, the monopoly of Noumea, and it already has led to deep landscape and sociocultural changes all over the Northwest coast of New Caledonia (Kowasch 2012; Grochain 2015). The consequences of the KNS mining project and of the development of Voh-Koné-Pouembout on the lagoons and adjacent coastal areas remain difficult to predict given the potential socioeconomic and ecological changes (direct and indirect pollution, maritime flows, marine recreation activities, mining vessels traffic). At the same time, fisheries could benefit from this development with an expected increase of local demand (Léopold et al. 2009, 2013). In order to anticipate such changes, North Province created in this precise area the Kan-Gunu MPA,59 which is the result of COGERON project recommendations. However, the creation of the Kan-Gunu MPA once again reflects the development dichotomy in North Province, and more generally New Caledonia, which is generating ever closer and coercive links between the two emblematic resources of the archipelago, the lagoon and nickel ore.

82The marine heritage (UNESCO serial site) and the mining development scheme represent in a sense two symbols for a future common destiny in which Kanak people have put great expectations for self-determination and cultural recognition. However, while the nickel industry is providing fast and substantial revenues, the value of marine ecosystem services is less evident. In this context, sustainability appears to be a popular element in election campaigns and mainly provides an important source of funds (subsidies from the South Pacific Community, France, Europe, conservation NGOs) and international recognition for the New Caledonian government and the Provinces, but it seems to be an “empty shell”. Behind the conservation and sustainable development ideology, the privatization of natural resources and territories seems to remain at the crux of the matter.

The “dark side” of conservation

83The conclusion of this chapter will focus on the case of the Coral Sea Natural Park (Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail in French, see fig. 10), which symbolizes some of the key contemporary challenges and controversies in New Caledonia and at the regional Pacific scale. The case brings together conservation ideology, marine protected areas, fisheries regulations and mining issues.

  • 60 New Caledonia government decree no 2014-1063/GNC of 23 April 2014 creating the Coral Sea Natural Pa (...)
  • 61 See the booklet dedicated to the Coral Sea Natural Park (2014) published under the coordination of (...)

84This Park was created60 in April 2014 and is the biggest MPA in the world; it covers 1.3 million square km and 95% of New Caledonia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Once again, this project (which began in 2012) was built through a so-called “concerted” process based on a strategic analysis and a multi-institutional committee. Three main objectives61 were identified: protection of marine biodiversity; sustainable development introducing the concept of a “Blue economy”; and regional integration and international visibility. However, the project rapidly faced strong opposition from local actors and environmental organizations, calling into question the concerted approach on which the management process of the future Coral Sea Natural Park was supposed to be based. Indeed, even though “consultation” was officially claimed to be at the heart of the project, it appears that very little attention has been paid to its effective implementation.

85Firstly, local organizations have pointed out the gap existing between French and New Caledonian legislation about Natural Parks and public consultation (see Action Biosphere 2014). The local organization “Action Biosphere” pointed to the fact that in France, the Environment Charter adjoining the Constitution as well as the Environment Code stipulates that marine natural park projects must be subjected to public inquiry, based on the idea that people have to be part of decisions concerning their common environment. In New Caledonia, however, no public inquiry was implemented to initiate a dialogue about the Coral Sea Natural Park project with the people living in the archipelago. According to Action Biosphere, this is because the EEZ became the responsibility of the New Caledonian government in 1998 and thus does not fall under the Environment Code of the three Provinces. In addition, this organization denounces that in its integrated marine territory management strategy, the government makes a clear distinction between two different publics: one is “restricted, co-opted and docile”, and is allowed to participate in the project and likely to share its future benefits; the other, called “the general public”, is only supposed to be informed about the project (ibid.). Furthermore, the creation of the Coral Sea Natural Park was based on a prior deliberation of the New Caledonia government which did not involve any obligation to consult the public with regard to MPAs developed in this zone (ibid.). According to Action Biosphere, these special features of New Caledonian law explain why most people, local environment organizations and fishers’ organizations were not given the opportunity to participate in the debate.

Figure 10: Official perimeter of the Coral Sea Natural Park

Figure 10: Official perimeter of the Coral Sea Natural Park

Source: Translation fom French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the map “Parc naturel de la mer de Corail-Périmètre”, French MPA Agency, URL: http://cartographie.aires-marines.fr/​sites/​all/​modules/​carto/​pdf/​_GES_NC_Perimetre_PN_a3pa.pdf

86Secondly, according to another local organization, EPLP, the decree allowing the creation of the Coral Sea Natural Park should have been discussed within the Environment Consultative Committee (French acronym, CCE, for Comité consultatif de l’environnement) of New Caledonia (Cornaille 2014). However, the organization noted that on two occasions, the CCE was not able to sit and no dialogue was engaged in this advisory body. Both organizations, Action Biosphere and EPLP, denounce this “carelessness or deliberate intent” (ibid.) on the part of the authorities and the fact that their elected representatives favour electoral strategies to the detriment of environmental issues. As a consequence, neither local organizations nor the New Caledonian population were able to raise their concerns and requests about the Coral Sea Natural Park or voice opposition to the project.

  • 62 Polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and ferromanganese crusts are particularly rich in pre (...)
  • 63 The ISA was created in 1994 by the United Nations’ Law of the Sea Convention to control the explora (...)
  • 64 In their report, Mahapatra and Chakravartty estimate that the global annual turnover of deep-sea mi (...)
  • 65 For further details about the missions of the SGNC, see the DIMENC website (French acronym for Dire (...)

87In fact, the main concerns of Action Biosphere and EPLP about the Coral Sea Natural Park seem to involve suspicions about hidden economic stakes within the project. Such concerns reflect recent global controversies about large-scale MPAs: the possible links with deep-sea exploitation of marine resources, especially minerals. Richard Mahapatra and Anupan Chakravartty (2014) discussed the contemporary context of deep-sea mining activity focussing on the extraction of polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides or ferromanganese crusts. These ores are essential for modern high technologies and therefore are the focus of much interest. However, they are unequally distributed on earth and generally found in low concentrations among other minerals; hence a high degree of technology is required for their localization, extraction and exploitation. At the same time, global stocks are dwindling due to increasing demand, which keeps pushing up prices. As a result, since the 1980s mining industries have been seeking new deposits in the deep ocean where “rare minerals”62 are found in high concentrations. The International Seabed Authority (ISA)63 is in charge of delivering licences to mining companies and scientific research institutes which wish to explore subsea floors. It has had to respond to a growing number of requests over the past few years. Indeed, the economic perspectives of seabed mining justify its qualification as a new “gold rush” (Donges 1985; Goldenberg 2014). The quest is already on-going and the Pacific Ocean is perceived as a new Eldorado64 for deep-sea exploration and mining (see fig. 11). In this context, Pacific states started to target this “Green and Blue economy” (Baker and Beaudoin 2013; Loubersac 2015). In New Caledonia, one SGNC (French acronym for Service Géologique de la Nouvelle-Calédonie) program precisely consists in “evaluating and promoting subsea mineral resources”65 in partnership with scientific institutions (Research and Development Institute — IRD; Ifremer; University of New Caledonia — UNC) and the New Caledonia EEZ research program (ZoNéCo).

Figure 11: Global distribution of three major types of deep-sea mineral resources

Figure 11: Global distribution of three major types of deep-sea mineral resources

Source: Figure 1 in UNEP-GEAS 2014, “Wealth in the Oceans: Deep-sea mining on the horizon?”, URL: http://na.unep.net/​geas/​getUNEPPageWithArticleIDScript.php?article_id=112

  • 66 See also EPLP (2015b) for a case of customary representatives’ opposition in the French overseas te (...)
  • 67 See the petition on Avaaz.org which is entitled “ISA: Protect our oceans” and will be addressed to (...)
  • 68 The first draft framework for regulation of global seabed mining activities was issued in March 201 (...)

88Mahapatra and Chakravartty also remind us, however, that some marine scientists and environmental organizations already are arguing that the extraction of rare minerals from the deep sea will possibly have massive consequences for marine biodiversity and unknown impacts on entire marine ecosystems, from the sea surface to the subsea ground floor (Drew 2009; D’Arcy 2013; Dyment et al. 2014). Most of these studies voice concerns about the lack of scientific knowledge about deep-sea ecosystems and the lack of transparency about the extractive processes to be used. Although mining actors claim that scientific studies have been and are being undertaken, controversies remain about the inadequacy and partiality of such studies, a lack of access to the data collected, and the gap between conservation strategies and project proposals. The most recent example of such controversy is the case of the Bismarck-Solomon Sea area where Nautilus Minerals Inc. was in charge of implementing the seabed-mining project Solwara 1 (Roche and Bice 2013). Apart from environmental issues, this project also faced strong local opposition66 under the leadership of the Bismarck-Solomon Sea Indigenous Peoples Council (BSSIPC), which revealed social impacts induced by the project because of a lack of consultation and a divergence between government and community stakeholders’ expectations. In fact, the increase of Pacific licences to explore subsea floors, regardless of their potential environmental and/or social consequences, seems to conflict with the objectives of conserving seabed resources as a “common heritage”, of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration providing for public participation and the establishment of independent “Citizens’ Advisory Councils” in such environmental issues (SPC 2012), and of the large-scale MPAs that are now established in the same areas. ISA currently has to face growing pressure from scientists and environmental and civil67 organizations calling for a precautionary approach and a freeze on contracts until independent research on seabed ecosystems has been conducted and the regulatory framework68 of deep-sea mining has been improved (Halfar and Fujita 2002; Wedding et al. 2015).

  • 69 The Pew Charitable Trust’s funds are estimated to generate US$300 million in dividends per year, re (...)
  • 70 See the website of C2ES for further information on the subject. URL: http://www.c2es.org (Accessed (...)

89Moreover, Action Biosphere and EPLP are also denouncing the ambivalent role of the international NGO, Pew Charitable Trusts (henceforth referred to as “Pew”), which supported New Caledonia and the French MPA Agency in the implementation of the Coral Sea Natural Park, and now has one representative on the management committee. Pew is one of the major promoters of large-scale MPAs in the Pacific Ocean (see also Giron in this volume), but is also known for its conservative values, liberal policies and economic “lobbying”69 methods in relation to marine scientists and small insular states looking for income from their natural resources and this new “Ocean Business” (see Giron et al. 2012 and in this volume; Le Sann 2012, 2013b). A particular question raised is whether large-scale MPAs and fisheries prohibitions could be the first steps towards the privatization of oceans to be followed by the deep-sea exploitation of rare minerals (see Giron et al. 2012 and in this volume)? The loss of income from fishing licences ensuing from the establishment of MPAs obliges small insular states to find new sources of revenue. Pew’s environmental lobbying combined with its affinity for multinational mining and petrol companies, the so-called “mineral hunters”, nourish the suspicions of Action Biosphere and EPLP. Pew’s ambivalence is reflected in part in its internal organization: the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, in charge of studies on the implementation of MPAs, has recently been transferred to the Centre for Climate and Energy Solution (C2ES),70 in charge of studies aiming to develop innovative processes for energy supply, which reinforces the suspicions of Pew’s detractors.

  • 71 Estimations about a global network of MPAs protecting 20 to 30% of the world’s marine ecosystems ma (...)

90At another level, the French government’s interests in the Coral Sea Natural Park and the support of the French MPA Agency reflect national maritime strategic issues and illustrate the “regulatory state administration” (Féral 2011). Indeed, the Coral Sea Natural Park constitutes almost 12% of French marine territories and is helping to expand the coverage of the French MPA network from 4 to 16% of these territories (French MPA Agency 2014). If the marine territories of the Austral archipelago (French Polynesia) are also declared an MPA, in partnership with Pew (Salvat et al. 2015), by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016, 20% of France’s marine surface will be protected. This nation will thereby meet the objectives defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity and the “Grenelle de la Mer” agreement, reinforcing its international leadership in the field of marine conservation and MPAs. Without French overseas territories, which represent almost 90% of France’s marine spaces, and the support71 of Pew as a mediator for the creation of large-scale MPAs, the task would have been difficult to achieve.

  • 72 For further information about Yan Giron’s approach of geostrategic stakes in the Pacific Ocean, his (...)
  • 73 For further information about French strategy on the Green and Blue economy, see the website of the (...)

91Therefore, the Coral Sea Natural Park can be analysed in terms of international geostrategic stakes, where superpowers are fighting for the control of mineral resources and marine territories in the Pacific Ocean, using the soft-power of NGOs like Pew (see Giron72 in this volume). Yet it can also be interpreted through the prism of “neo-colonialism”. Superpowers, mainly France in this case, are accused of using environmental pretexts to strengthen their geopolitical positions and investments in small countries and territories in the Pacific within a context of larger regional, national and international stakes. Meanwhile, behind official discourses related to fisheries management and marine conservation, large-scale MPAs, through fishing prohibitions and regulations of vessel traffic, tend to inhibit the development of the fisheries sector while providing new opportunities for the Green and Blue economy73 (Giron et al. 2012; Le Sann 2012, 2013b).

92Last but not least, the Coral Sea Natural Park appears to fall under the scope of what we could call an “ecological corporatism tradition” that was established in New Caledonia a long time ago. Indeed, due to the richness of its environmental resources, scientific institutions (such as the Research and Development Institute — IRD, New Caledonia Agronomic Institute — IAC, and Ifremer) and international conservation NGOs (such as Conservation International and WWF) have for decades targeted the archipelago as a strategic laboratory in which to improve their intervention, management tools and scientific protocols (Cornier 2009). This phenomenon can be described in terms of the “institutionalization” of nature and has two major effects (Latour 2004). First, it allows the international recognition of these actors’ know-how, their ideology and their research projects implemented in what we can call an “Eldorado of biodiversity”. Second, at the level of Oceania, very narrow partnerships have been formalized between scientific institutions, international conservation NGOs, and economic sectors and authorities which could result in conflicts of interests (Richer de Forges 2007; Agniel 2008). Consequently, in New Caledonia, local organizations such as Action Biosphere and EPLP often denounce the lack of independence of scientific research in environmental projects and their ambiguous role because of their simultaneous involvement in private research sponsored by mining operators and investors.

93The Coral Sea Natural Park gathers together a large scientific community and international conservation NGOs while linking large-scale MPAs, fisheries regulations, subsea mining, and economic and geostrategic stakes. It therefore crystallizes the deep complexity of some of the challenges facing New Caledonia today. Given its mining history and high degree of technological and scientific specialisation, the archipelago may be able to effectively shift to subsea mining in the event that Action Biosphere and EPLP’s suspicions become reality. This conclusion aims to invite the scientific community to take a real interest in the Coral Sea Natural Park, to be aware of the controversies surrounding this project and more generally large-scale MPAs in the Pacific, and to engage in discussions and independent research on the Green and Blue economy.

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2005 Évaluation de l’impact de l’aquaculture de crevettes sur les mangroves de Nouvelle-Calédonie (Final report). Noumea: ZoNéCo Program.

Wagner, John, and Mike Evans (eds.)
2007 “Customs, Commons, Property, and Ecology: Case Studies from Oceania”. Special issue of
Human Organization, 66 (1).

Ward, Trevor J., Denis Heinemann, and Nathan Evans
2001
The Role of Marine Reserves as Fisheries Management Tools: A Review of Concepts, Evidence and International Experience. Canberra: Bureau of Rural Sciences, Australia.

Wedding, Lisa M., S. M. Reiter, C.R. Smith, K. M. Gjerde, J. N. Kittinger, A.M. Friedlander, S. D. Gaines, M.R. Clark, A.M. Thurnherr, S. M. Hardy, and L.B. Crowder
2015 “Managing Mining of the Deep Seabed”.
Science, 349: 144-145.

Wells, Martin A., Erick R. Ramanaidou, Michael Verrall, and Christian Tessarolo
2009 “Mineralogy and Crystal Chemistry of ‘Garnierites’ in the Goro Lateritic Nickel Deposit, New Caledonia”.
European Journal of Mineralogy 21 (2): 467-483.

Winslow, Donna
1995 «Indépendance, savoir aborigène et environnement en Nouvelle-Calédonie». Journal of Political Ecology, 2: 1-19.

WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature)
2010 “Création des 3 aires marines protégées de la côte Nord-est (inauguration officielle)». Le Caillou Vert–WWF New Caledonia Press release, 20 December 2010 [Online]. URL: http://nouvelle-caledonie.wwf.fr/2010/12/20/creation-des-3-premieres-aires-marinesprotegees-de-la-cote-nord-est-inauguration-officielle/ (Accessed on May 15, 2015).

Notes

1 According to Marcel Mauss’ approach (1934), the adjective “traditional” refers to uses and practices inherited from the past even if various transformations have affected the sociotechnical systems. Given the framework of this article, we use this term and “customary” interchangeably (Wagner and Evans 2007). For a definition of “tradition” in Kanak society, see notably Leblic (1993: 19-21).

2 For a collection of studies about traditional fisheries and marine management in Oceania see the Pacific Community Information Bulletin (Traditional Marine Resource Management and Knowledge 1992-2015).

3 The reference framework is set by the definition given by the World Conservation Union: “A MPA is a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.” (Dudley ed. 2008, Day et al. 2012). This definition is based on six levels of protection, ranging from “strict nature reserve” (Ia) set aside for scientific research only and off limits to the public, to “sustainable resource management areas” (VI). Despite the recent revision of the classification, the contents and scope of this definition remain debatable with regard to the contemporary development of MPAs (Féral 2011; Roth and Thompson 2012).

4 France equipped itself with a new institutional tool in 2007, the Marine Protected Areas Agency (Agence des Aires Marines Protégées in French), which has become “France’s strike force to realize its conservation and marine conservation policy”, although its activities and role are still being debated (Féral 2011). In 2013, it organized the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3) in Marseille (France).

5 The term “resources” designates the ensemble of nickel volumes identified to date (25% in 2014). It must be distinguished from “reserves”, which correspond to the share of resources whose economic viability is ensured under precise market conditions (15% in 2014). The share of the latter can evolve depending on sale prices and new extraction and handling procedures (CEROM 2015).

6 According to the Political Ecology theory, the adjective “cosmopolitical” refers to sociopolitical organizations and systems of beliefs at the foundation of “humans and non-humans” management. Cosmopolitical also distinguishes between the Western “modern” approach of political ecology, relying on the dichotomy “nature/culture”, and “non-modern” approaches on which most non-Western societies rely (Descola 2005; Latour 2004; and for Kanak societies Leblic 1993, 2005).

7 Cruising for the first time near Grande Terre in 1774, James Cook named the island “New Caledonia” because it resembled the coasts of his Scottish homeland (Caledonia in Latin).

8 This pre-colonial administrative breakdown was recognized in the 1988 Matignon-Oudinot Accords with the creation of “customary areas” ratified by the institutional law no 99-209 which defined the institutional functioning of New Caledonia.

9 The term “country” refers to Kanak cosmopolitical organization over a specific territory.

10 The name “Kanak” comes from the Hawaiian term Kanaka, meaning “human being”, which was generally given in the 19th century by Europeans navigators to indigenous people from Melanesia. It progressively became a pejorative name for indigenous people from New Caledonia during the early colonization period (most of the time written “Canaque”) before being reclaimed in the 1970s under the process of indigenous cultural recognition.

11 Since the Noumea Accord, the French government has progressively been transferring, or sharing, institutional competencies to New Caledonia, such as education, environmental management, political organization and some foreign policies, while keeping sovereign powers in the domains of foreign affairs, justice, defence, public order and currency policies.

12 In New Caledonia, it is common to allude to this process as the “self-determination referendum” which could be one of the possible modalities although there is no explicit reference to this consultation mode in the Noumea Accord.

13 If by 2019 this deadline has not been respected, the task of organizing the consultation will fall to the French government.

14 Under the Noumea Accord, New Caledonian citizenship is attributed according to specific criteria, in particular residence, around which the electoral rights of people living in New Caledonia are defined. This citizenship leads notably to particular electoral restrictions depending on the type of election (provincial, territorial, self-determination, or national) which are today at the heart of the local political debate and the cause of high tension between parties present (Graff 2012).

15 See also Leblic (1993) for a previous socioeconomic north-south rebalancing project in the 1980s.

16 Among which a flag, the future name of New Caledonia, a slogan, an anthem and currency graphics.

17 The total population of New Caledonia was estimated to be 268,767 inhabitants in the last census conducted in 2014 (ISEE 2014).

18 The same census counted 42,065 Kanak residents in Greater Noumea (Grand Nouméa in French) for a total of 104,958 representatives of this community (ISEE 2014).

19 This project was initiated by local NGOs campaigning for sustainable development alternatives to the mining industry (Corail Vivant, Action Biosphère) and was supported by Kanak authorities via the customary Senate (Cornier 2009: 122-123).

20 The World Conservation Union defines an MPA network as: “a collection of individual marine protected areas or reserves operating co-operatively and synergistically, at various spatial scales and with a range of protection levels that are designed to meet objectives that a single reserve cannot achieve” (Dudley ed. 2008).

21 For the main ones: Programme régional océanien pour l’environnement (PROE), Coral reef initiatives for the Pacific (CRISP), Initiative française pour les récifs coralliens (Ifrecor), Grenelle de la Mer, RAMSAR Convention, Convention on Biological Diversity.

22 The Conservatory for Natural Spaces (French acronym, CEN, for Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels) of New Caledonia is a public interest group dedicated to supporting environmental management and actions at the level of the archipelago. It is part of the French CEN network. URL: http://www.reseaucen.org/fr (Accessed on October 10, 2015). See Decree no HC/DIRAG no 08 of 28 February 2011 concerning its constituting convention for more information on the organization and mission of the CEN (Journal officiel de la Nouvelle-Calédonie – JONC of 22 March 2011: 2460-2470).

23 Under Article 3 of national law no 2001-017 of 11 January 2002 transferring the management of the maritime public domain to the Provinces, recognition is given to the existence of “customary uses” of the marine environment requiring special provisions. This recognition of specific rights based on custom does not imply a private appropriation of coastal waters but allows the provinces to take them into account if they so wish.

24 These concepts have been particularly studied in French anthropology (see chronologically Lévi-Strauss 1962; Chamoux 1981; Sperber 1982; and for the Kanak context, Leblic 2008).

25 For a review of the diversity of definitions and ideologies surrounding TEK and some other similar terms (indigenous or aboriginal knowledge), see for example the online compilation from the National Aboriginal Forestry Association. URL: http://nafaforestry.org/forest_home/documents/TKdefs-FH-19dec06.pdf (Accessed on September 23, 2015).

26 Jacques Barrau invited Isabelle Leblic to respond to a 1982 CORDET call for tenders on fishing in the Dom-Tom and she proposed a response on New Caledonia which lies at the origin of Kanak maritime anthropological research (Leblic 2002a: 116).

27 Marie-Hélène Teulières-Preston (1992, 2000) introduced the term “customary maritime law” to define specific rights of use claimed by a clan resulting from its historical relationship with a specific marine territory.

28 These species (such as sea turtles and dugongs) generally are described as “customary” due to their symbolic and ritual dimensions. See the next paragraph on this topic and Leblic (2008).

29 In New Caledonia, on the basis of Maurice Leenhardt’s research (1930, 1946), “totem” refers to one form of the ancestors of the clan, or the lineage, and is presented in oral tradition as being at the origin of the paternal clan. For marine totems considerations see Leblic (2000a, 2002b and 2008: 200-205).

30 Among these, sharks and banded sea kraits (Laticauda colubrina [Schneider 1799]) are among the most remarkable and widespread, but numerous other species such as the bluespine unicornfish (Naso unicornis [Forsskål 1775]), milkfish (Chanos chanos [Forsskål 1775]), dugong (Dugong dugon [Müller 1776]), sea turtles, and crabs can be encountered in different regions of the archipelago.

31 “Taboo” refers to a social, magical, religious or ritual prohibition, and to the object or the place targeted by the prohibition (Leblic 1989b, 2002b, 2005).

32 Isabelle Leblic (1988, 1989ab, 1991, 1993, 2001a, 2008) introduced the term, “fishing clans”, to define the clans which are the depository of rights and/or functions over parts of marine spaces according to their historical relationships with these territories.

33 See also Leblic (1989a, 2008).

34 Donna Winslow (1995) suggested that the Kanak approach of managing the environment and natural resources can be called “substantive rationality”, characterized by the intrinsic values of an object or an act. In opposition, she suggested that the Western approach can be called “formal rationality”, characterized by the intellectualization of “nature” and increasingly efficient means of managing the environment and natural resources.

35 The official act was signed 24 September 1853 in Balade, some 20 kilometres north of the Yambé tribe, by Admiral Auguste Febvrier-Despointes. Sometime later, the captain of the ship Tardy de Montravel had the great chief of the region sign a declaration recognizing the sovereignty of Emperor Napoléon III over New Caledonia (Leblic 1993; Rougeyron 1995).

36 The second site is further south in the district of Hienghène, where the two Yeega and Doïmen MPAs were established at the same time (see fig. 9; Faninoz 2009).

37 Rapid marine assessment programme coordinated by Conservation International (Mc Kenna et al. 2006); Marine ecoregional analysis coordinated by WWF (Gabrié et al. 2005); Interim report for the north-east MPA projects coordinated by WWF (Baudat-Franceschi 2007).

38 Operating on the intra-shelf reef named Péwen, which means “manta ray” in the local vernacular language in reference to the shape of the reef.

39 Underwater canyon within the La Seine fringing reef named Hwanga Lé-dan, which means “subsea tribe” in the local vernacular language. People from Yambé consider that a tribe lives in this part of the reef, which explains why it is targeted by a social taboo and specific behaviours (customary request and gestures necessary to enter, injunction not to talk loudly, laugh or shout) must be respected in this place.

40 Provincial law no 2009-342/APN of 28 August 2009 (modified by law no 2012-88/APN of 29 February 2012) involving the creation of a marine protected area named the “Hyabé-Lé Jao sustainable resource management area” (JONC of 20 October 2009: 8967).

41 According to IUCN: “multiple-use MPAs may have a spectrum of zones within them, each zone type having different objectives with some allowing greater use and removal of resources than others (e. g., no-take zones are commonly designated as one of the zones of a multiple-use MPA)” (Dudley ed. 2008).

42 The categorization is based on the IUCN referential which was adapted to the North Province’s code of environment which defines the main management principles of natural protected areas. Provincial law no 2014-322/APN of 24 October 2014 modifying law no 2008-306/APN of 24 October 2008 relative to North Province’s environment code (JONC of 11 December 2014: 11365-11371).

43 The species considered in this case is the bear paw clam (Hippopus hippopus [Linnaeus 1758]), also known as the horse’s hoof clam or strawberry clam.

44 For a review of previous results of SEK regarding coral reefs protection, management and valorisation in the Pacific region and for specific results related to the Hyabé-Lé Jao MPA, see Gabrié (2011).

45 In Kanak cosmogony, marine subsea territories are often considered as sanctuaries for the dead (the submarine space is called “the country of the dead”).

46 INTEGRE (French acronym for Initiative des territoires du Pacifique Sud pour la gestion régionale de l’environnement) is a sustainable development project supported by the Pacific Community and coordinated by French Polynesia with financial support from the FED (French acronym for Fonds européen de développement). Its objectives are to sustain local initiatives, favour communities’ participation and integrated coastal zones management, and reinforce regional cooperation between four European overseas countries and territories (New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia and Pitcairn). For further details, see INTEGRE website. URL: http://integre.spc.int/ (AccessedonOctober07, 2015).

47 A nursery project initiated in 2012 formulated by the tribe had enabled an abandoned quarry on the MPA watershed to be rehabilitated with a first phase of revegetation in 2013.

48 See notably the North-East coast MPAs Information Bulletin (Le Journal des Aires Marines Protégées de la Côte Nord-Est in French, 2009-2015) and the New Caledonia WWF’s web blog (URL: http://nouvelle-caledonie.wwf.fr/, accessed on October 30, 2015) for a vulgarisation of the conservation ideology, scientific and technical protocols, and local participatory actions and micro-projects related to the Hyabé-Lé-Jao MPA as well as the Doïmen and Yeega MPAs in Hienghène.

49 See Leblic (1993: 260-278, 1999: 131-133, 2001a: 146-148) for details about Kanak fishing cooperatives in New Caledonia.

50 The “FADIL” boat project aimed to promote commercial fishing in Kanak communities by giving fishers the opportunity to buy a motorboat through an investment protocol supported by subsidies. See Leblic (1993: 162-167 and 256-260, 1999: 129-131, 2001a: 143-145) for further details.

51 COGERON (French acronym for Organiser la cogestion des ressources à forte valeur patrimoniale en Nouvelle-Calédonie) was a multidisciplinary project developed in order to respond to fisheries and coastal management issues in North Province.

52 Workshop (S40): De Wit R., Narchi N. E., Camoui L. E. and Cornier S. (co-chairs) – “Ethnothassic interactions”, 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology (CISE), Montpellier, 20-25 May 2012; and Workshop (WS2H2): McDonnald A. and Cornier S. (co-chairs) – “The role of culture and tradition in MPA management: Case studies”, 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3), Marseilles, 21-27 October 2013.

53 For more details on “co-learning” and “co-construction of knowledge” concepts and on the ethical questions of collaborating with indigenous communities, see among others the website and scientific project of the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE). URL: http://www.ethnobiology.net/ (Accessed on September 10, 2015). For the “co-existence” model introduced during the State of the Lakes Ecosytem Conference (SOLEC), see McGregor (2008).

54 Local nickname given to nickel ore, which highlights its patrimonial dimension in New Caledonia (see Horowitz 2004: 299).

55 The last two major incidents occurred in 2009 and 2014 in the Goro-Nickel mine area with respectively 2,800 litres and 96,000 litres of acid solution ejected into “la Baie du Nord” river, “toasting” almost all the aquatic fauna from the river and the near shore area (EPLP 2014a; Lebigre 2014).

56 In 2014, 18 mollusc farming areas were operating in New Caledonia (IEOM 2014).

57 See Virly et al. (2005) for a report about aquaculture impacts on coastal mangroves in New Caledonia.

58 Interview with Martine Cornaille (President, EPLP) after a heated debate on this subject in which she argued against the specialized scientific community and sector administrative representatives at the conference organized in North Province by AGORA-SHS – “Sustainable development in Oceania: towards a new ethic?”, April 24-26, 2013.

59 This MPA is located on the west coast of North Province at the level of the communes of Voh and Kaala-Gomen (see fig. 9). According to the Province’s referential, it is a sustainable resource management area created by law no 2014-316/APN of 24 October 2014 (JONC of 11 December 2014: 11361-11363).

60 New Caledonia government decree no 2014-1063/GNC of 23 April 2014 creating the Coral Sea Natural Park (JONC of 01 May 2014: 4245).

61 See the booklet dedicated to the Coral Sea Natural Park (2014) published under the coordination of the Maritime Affairs of New Caledonia and the French MPA Agency.

62 Polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and ferromanganese crusts are particularly rich in precious cobalt, zinc, manganese, copper, gold and silver among other earth minerals.

63 The ISA was created in 1994 by the United Nations’ Law of the Sea Convention to control the exploration and exploitation of seabed mineral resources in international waters, which have been declared “common heritage of mankind”. See the ISA’s website of for further information about its competencies, ongoing projects and technical reports about seabed mineral resources. URL: https://www.isa.org.jm/ (Accessed on July 21, 2015).

64 In their report, Mahapatra and Chakravartty estimate that the global annual turnover of deep-sea mining would reach US$13 billion by 2030, starting from virtually zero today. Indeed, metals extracted from one ton of polymetallic nodules can fetch US$1000 at current market rates. This gives an idea of the potential revenue that could be earned through, for example, extractions from the Pacific Clarion-Clipperton zone, estimated by ISA to hold almost 62 billion tons of poly metallic nodules.

65 For further details about the missions of the SGNC, see the DIMENC website (French acronym for Direction de l’Industrie des Mines et de l’Energie de la Nouvelle-Calédonie). URL: https://dimenc.gouv.nc/geologie/presentation-et-missions (Accessed on July 21, 2015). For the stakes related to the Green and Blue economy and subsea minerals in New Caledonia, see Loubersac et al. (2013).

66 See also EPLP (2015b) for a case of customary representatives’ opposition in the French overseas territory of Wallis and Futuna.

67 See the petition on Avaaz.org which is entitled “ISA: Protect our oceans” and will be addressed to “the ISA Secretary General Nii Allotey Odunton, members of the ISA Assembly, Council and Committees, and relevant ministers”. URL: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/deep_sea_mining_en_dn1/?bswWfdb&v=62024 (Accessed on July 21, 2015).

68 The first draft framework for regulation of global seabed mining activities was issued in March 2015 (see ISA 2015). For a complete report on the Pacific regional framework for deep-sea minerals exploration and exploitation, see also SPC (2012).

69 The Pew Charitable Trust’s funds are estimated to generate US$300 million in dividends per year, resulting from investments valued at US$6 billion. Almost US$100 million per year are dedicated to ocean conservation and a large part to its ocean science division (See Giron et al. 2012 and Giron in this volume).

70 See the website of C2ES for further information on the subject. URL: http://www.c2es.org (Accessed on July 20, 2015).

71 Estimations about a global network of MPAs protecting 20 to 30% of the world’s marine ecosystems may cost between US$5 and 19 billion and create more than one million jobs. It gives an idea of the “worldwide costs” to manage these MPAs and the key challenges for states to find private financial and technical support (Balmford et al. 2004).

72 For further information about Yan Giron’s approach of geostrategic stakes in the Pacific Ocean, his theory about the “Pivot” and the “Blue Charity Business”, see also his personal very well documented web blog “Bluelobby”. URL: http://blog.bluelobby.eu/ (Accessed on July 19, 2015).

73 For further information about French strategy on the Green and Blue economy, see the website of the “Trame verte et bleue” network which is one of the emblematic measures adopted in the “Grenelle de l’Environnement”. URL: http://www.trameverteetbleue.fr/ (Accessed on October 10, 2015).

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: New Caledonia in the landscape of Oceania
Légende Sources: Adaptation by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the “Oceania UN Geoscheme - Map with Zones”, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons, URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/​wiki/​File:Oceania_UN_Geoscheme_-_Map_with_Zones.svg#/​media/​File: Oceania_UN_Geoscheme_-_Map_with_Zones.svg
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Titre Figure 2: Map of linguistic and customary areas and location of the fieldwork areas on which this case study is based
Légende Souces: Adaptation and translation from French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the map Aires coutumières et langues de Nouvelle-Calédonie, Lacito-CNRS, 2011.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 232k
Titre Figure 3: Distribution of communities in New Caledonia in 2009
Légende Sources: S. Cornier and I. Leblic, using “Répartition de la population par communauté en 2009”, ISEE, URL: http://www.isee.nc/​population/​recensement/​communautes
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 80k
Titre Figure4: New Caledonia coastal zones and terrestrial buffer zones inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008
Légende Sources: Translation from French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of Map 1.a. in Comité local Ifrecor 2006a, Annexes Cartographiques, p. 4
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Titre Figure 5: An example of mapping a Kanak “country”: simplistic top-down view of the east coast of the paicî country and simplification of a lived space in this country, referred to as nâpö mä pôrôwâ in the paicî language (meaning “country and settlement”) (valley of Göièta, Ponérihouen).
Légende © I. Leblic, translated from French to English from Leblic 2005: 97-99
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 156k
Titre Pictures 1-3: Ancient fishing artefacts in the Museum of New Caledonia (Noumea)
Légende 1. Dam filter on a raft, 2. Traditional fishing nets, and 3. Octopus fishing lure.Sources: Leblic 2008: 59, 53 and 66, courtesy of the Museum of New Caledonia in Noumea, pictures by I. Leblic.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 120k
Titre Pictures 4-5: Daily fishing practices
Légende 4. Women collecting shells along the coast of Yambé and 5. A fisherman with his net on the shore.© S. Cornier, 2010 and 2012.
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 164k
Titre Pictures 6-7: Return from collective fishing
Légende 6. Return from sea turtle fishing in Goro (February 1986) and 7. Return from milkfish or miikwa (Chanos chanos [Forsskål 1775]) fishing (October 1983) in the Isle of Pines.© I. Leblic, 1986 and 1983
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 184k
Titre Pictures 8a-b
Légende a. Old fishing magic stones and b. Mââgenin Rock, bay of Oro, an old place of cult for votive practices on the Isle of Pines.Sources: Leblic 2008: 197-198, 8a: courtesy of the Museum of New Caledonia in Noumea, picture by E. Dell’Erba, 8b: © I. Leblic
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 136k
Titre Figure 6: New Caledonia Northeast Coastal Zone and terrestrial buffer zones listed on the World Heritage in 2008 and the Yambé tribe’s area
Légende Sources: adaptation and translation from French to English by S. Cornier of Map 1.d. in Comité local Ifrecor 2006a, Annexes Cartographiques, p. 7
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 272k
Titre Figure 7: Mapping of the official boundaries of the Hyabé/Lé-Jao multi-use MPA and the previous Yambé tribe’s customary reserve
Légende Sources: S. Cornier using Google map; Cornier 2010; Faninoz 2009
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 296k
Titre Table 1: Customary marine management meeting the framework of marine conservation through the implementation of the Hyabé-Lé Jao MPA
Légende © S. Cornier, 2015
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 204k
Titre Pictures 9a-b-c: Sea turtles caught and cooked in their shells for the Yam ceremony in Yambé
Légende © S. Cornier, 2013
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 208k
Titre Picture 10: Head and guts of a sea turtle barely concealed along the coast
Légende © S. Cornier, 2013
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Titre Pictures 11a-b-c: “Coastal gardens” and giant clams
Légende a. Examples of “coastal gardens” along the near shore.© S. Cornier, 2013b. Freshly collected giant clams.c. The flesh of the giant clam is much appreciated by local people. Fearful that this could lead to overfishing, government authorities introduced the targeted regulation of this species within the MPA.© S. Cornier, 2010
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 148k
Titre Figure 8: New Caledonia MPA network in 2015
Légende Sources: Translation from French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the map “Nouvelle-Calédonie:Aires marines protégées”, French MPA Agency, URL:http://cartographie.aires-marines.fr/​sites/​all/​modules/​carto/​pdf/​GES_NC_AMP.pdf
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 332k
Titre Figure 9: Nickel mining centres and companies in New Caledonia
Légende Source: Adaptation by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of Figure 1 in Wells et al. 2009
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 172k
Titre Figure 10: Official perimeter of the Coral Sea Natural Park
Légende Source: Translation fom French to English by S. Cornier and I. Leblic of the map “Parc naturel de la mer de Corail-Périmètre”, French MPA Agency, URL: http://cartographie.aires-marines.fr/​sites/​all/​modules/​carto/​pdf/​_GES_NC_Perimetre_PN_a3pa.pdf
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 208k
Titre Figure 11: Global distribution of three major types of deep-sea mineral resources
Légende Source: Figure 1 in UNEP-GEAS 2014, “Wealth in the Oceans: Deep-sea mining on the horizon?”, URL: http://na.unep.net/​geas/​getUNEPPageWithArticleIDScript.php?article_id=112
URL http://books.openedition.org/pacific/docannexe/image/434/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 449k

Auteurs

Holds a degree in marine engineering (SeaTech, Toulon, France) and a Master of Physical and Coastal Oceanography (COM, Marseille, France). In 2006 he started ethnographic research in New Caledonia on Kanak traditional systems of sea management and emerging modes of governance of the marine environment. Based on a methodological approach combining political ecology, cultural technology and marine ethnobiology, his research focuses on relations between society and environment, marine biodiversity conservation, marine protected areas, and complex interactions between Kanak cosmopolitical systems and exogenous conservation and development policies. Since the inscription of six marine clusters in the lagoons of New Caledonia on the World Heritage List in 2008, and with the support of the Yambé tribe, he has been interested in the social issues and controversies associated with the Hyabé/Lé-Jao marine protected area. Between 2010 and 2013, he conducted several field investigations in New Caledonia funded by “Labex Corail” (a cluster of excellence on coral reefs and global changes), CREDO and LACITO.

Ethnologist and CNRS Senior Researcher at LACITO (LAngues et CIvilisations à Tradition Orale), Paris, France. She initiated her research in maritime anthropology in 1979 with her PhD study focused on a small French island (Molène, Bretagne) whose whole history is based on the exploitation of the sea (see Molène, une île tournée vers la mer, 2007, Peeters). Since 1982, she has been conducting research in maritime anthropology in New Caledonia, specifically with the Kanak fishing clans of southern New Caledonia. The findings of her research have been disseminated in numerous publications over the years, including the summary book, Vivre de la mer, vivre avec la terre… en pays kanak. Savoirs et techniques des pêcheurs kanak du sud de la Nouvelle-Calédonie (2008, Société des Océanistes). Since 1989, she has also oriented her field studies on social change and development projects in New Caledonia, particularly in Ponérihouen (see Les Kanak face au développement. La voie étroite, 1993, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble). In parallel, she has worked on kinship and adoption in the Paicî area through the comprehensive documentation and analysis of clan genealogies. Among other publications on this topic and, more generally, in the field of the anthropology of kinship and childhood, she edited the volume, De l’adoption. Des pratiques de filiations différentes (2004, Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal), and co-edited with Chantal Collard a special issue of the journal Anthropologie et Sociétés on childhood at risk (Volume 33 (1), 2009). In addition, she has worked on cultural technology and, in this research field, she co-edited a double special issue of the Journal de la Société des Océanistes (volume 136–137, 2013) on the “immaterial” components of “material” culture. Isabelle has also been the editor of this journal since 2004.

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