European sardines are an important fishing resource in the North Atlantic. Recognized for its great commercial and economic value in southern Europe, this resource currently has low stock indices. From this perspective, fishers’ local ecological knowledge (LEK) is appreciated as an auxiliary tool in the management of sardines in this region. Our goal is to evaluate the LEK and attitudes towards the conservation of Sardina pilchardus in the typical fishing village of Peniche, Portugal.
From June to September 2016, we carried out 87 semi-structured interviews. The four main points of the interviews were interviewee profile, fishing structure, fishermen’s LEK and attitudes towards sardine conservation. The interviews were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed using a 3-point Likert scale. An LEK index and an attitude index were generated. Comparison analyses and correlations were made between the indices and variables of the interviewee profile and the fishing structure.
The mean LEK index was 0.55 and was classified as moderate. The attitudes index in relation to conservation was 0.76 and was classified as positive. This index had a positive and significant correlation with the LEK index and a significant negative correlation with the fishermen’s age. When the LEK index was compared with the educational level, significant differences were observed only between class A and class C. The result showed that the differences in the attitudes index were statistically significant when the three educational classes were compared.
The fishermen of Peniche in Portugal present moderate informal knowledge about the biology and ecology of sardines. Attitudes towards conservation were predominantly positive. Fishermen with greater LEK, with a higher educational level and at a younger age presented more positive attitudes in relation to environmental conservation issues in the present case of the sardine population. The LEK is not necessarily related to the educational level of the fishermen. We suggest environmental education programs for the communities that depend on this resource. The use of LEK and fishermen’s perceptions can help in the management of the European sardine fishery in Portugal.