Department of Social Anthropology

New PhD candidate : Michael Vina

Environmental Anthropology, Ethnobiology, Maritime Anthropology, Political Ecology. US born and Venezuelan raised Michael Vina has recently begun his PhD project here in Bergen, where he focuses on environmental knowledge and perspectives on climate change amongst fishers in coastal Ecuador. Read more about him here!

A fleet of small fishingboats on the horizon
Michael Vina

Vina is by no means new to the subject of fishing. In Equador and Costa Rica, Vina has worked on everal fishing related projects, focusing on themes such as fishing cooperatives, fishing rights, technology transfer, fishers’ reinvention of technology, perceptions of sea turtles, and the political ecology of marine protected areas.

In his Master’s Thesis from New Mexico State University he focused on the local ecological knowledge of hunters and gatherers in a small hunting and fishing village in coastal Ecuador, where he examined issues on people-wildlife relations, classification of fauna, as well as local knowledge in the context of power dynamics involving conservation plans and eco-tourism development. This is his PhD project:


This project will mainly focus on fishers’ perceptions and local environmental knowledge regarding the interplay between climate change, marine ecology, conservation schemes, and the interaction between different fishing sectors.

Environmental knowledge and perceptions will be examined in the context of rapid social and ecological change, taking into account historical forces, identity formulation, political processes, consumption patterns, and power differences as well as fishers’ religious and spiritual understandings.

In addition, I want to focus on the adaptive challenges confronted by fishers and their coping strategies, using anthropological approaches in local knowledge systems, political ecology, and ethnoichthyology.  

A second component of the study will examine NGO representatives, fisheries scientists/managers, and governmental agents’ perceptions about fishers and their potential role in marine resource management to better understand what is occurring at the local level when information exchange and policy implementation occur between both actors, and how knowledge is contested, applied, or rejected for said purposes. I plan to use a combination of several ethnographic methods such as participant observation, interviews, and surveys. 

This ethnographic study will take place along three closely situated fishing communities in coastal Ecuador’s Manabi province in order to provide an in depth regional scope on fishing activities, and employ a comparative analysis to reveal how diverse communities in the same region with similar social organizations, different fishing strategies, and different relations to national and international markets, manipulate and adapt to the shifting marine environment.